March 2019

Greetings brothers and sisters in Christ,

As most of you know, a special session of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church, the worldwide governing body of our church, convened in St. Louis this past weekend. This conference was called by the 2016 General conference to determine “The Way Forward” for our church in light of the division in America over human sexuality.

Those of us who live in the United States live in a democratic republic. The United Methodist Church is conceived as a democracy also, with legislative, executive, and judicial branches. The decision of the General Conference was that direction of The United Methodist Church in the future is to follow the Traditional Plan. Some of us, will not like the direction they chose.

As I contemplate about this situation, Luke 6:27 comes to mind. Jesus says, “But I say to you who are willing to hear: Love your enemies.” When I consider all the division in our church and our nation, I’m reminded that Jesus not only said to “Love our neighbor”, but “Love our enemies. As one who preaches from the Lectionary, I don’t think that it was a coincidence that this was the Gospel reading for last Sunday.

Jesus says the shocking phrase, “Love your enemies.” What?! He doesn’t just tell us to listen to them. We are to love them! Jesus does not seem to be asking us to agree. Instead, Jesus asks us to love one another.  He is talking about the kingdom of God, where love is the rule, not an eye for an eye.

Jesus asks us to “be compassionate just as [God] is compassionate.” The United Methodist Church asserts: “The people of God, who are the church made visible in the world, must convince the world of the reality of the gospel or leave it unconvinced” [2016 Book of Discipline ¶130].

I’m not attempting to choose sides on the issues facing The United Methodist Church or for that matter the differences of opinion that we have being brought to the forefront of American politics. What I’m trying to say is that as Christians, followers of Jesus the Christ, we are to love as Jesus loved. To love as God has first loved us with compassion and mercy. When we do that. When we love our enemies, then we knew peace and can live together in harmony as a united people.

Bishop Cynthia Moore Koikoi has set up several General Conference debriefing sessions throughout our Annual Conference. In the Franklin District, our session will be on Saturday, March 9 at 3:00 PM at the Clarks Mills UMC. Please attend if possible. For information about other locations please contact me.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Bill

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