Pathway Forward – Living in Grace and in Difference
1 John 3:1 How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!
What a fabulous scripture. Lavished love meaning extravagant love — Yes, God loves us extravagantly regardless of our beliefs, our sexual preferences, our gender preference, our ethnicity, our race, our gender, our sins – our anything!
We all love Jesus. We all love each other – even though we might have different convictions or expressions of belief. And, of course we all love pie. We threw that last one in to make you smile and remember that those who eat pie together – stay together!
We would love to end on the pie note but have been asked to address some potential decisions that we will need to make regarding the direction of our church.
In 2019 at the Special General Conference, the Traditional Plan was passed upholding the current Book of Discipline which prohibits ordaining LGBTQ clergy and prohibits officiating at or hosting same-sex marriage. Naturally this caused further unrest among our LGBTQ brothers and sisters in Christ throughout our worldwide church. Because of the continued division, a diverse group of representatives from United Methodist advocacy groups and 8 bishops from around the world have collaborated on a proposed agreement for the amicable separation of The United Methodist Church.
This representative body of UMC bishops believe “separation is the best means to resolve our differences, allowing each part of the Church to remain true to its theological understanding, while recognizing the dignity, equality, integrity, and respect of every person,” says the Protocol Statement of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation which was announced January 3rd.
Below is a summary of what this Protocol would bring about if approved at General Conference in May:
- This Protocol proposes that the Traditional Plan would be repealed and all current LGBTQ prohibitions with clergy, bishops and same sex marriage outlined in the Book of Discipline would be removed for The United Methodist Church.
- The Protocol anticipates the formation of a new “Traditionalist” Methodist denomination, which would adopt the existing Book of Discipline and become separate from the current UMC governing body. Once formed, the new church would receive $25 million over the next four years and give up further claim to The UMC’s assets. Provisions exist for entities that choose to separate to retain their assets and liabilities. All current clergy and lay employees would keep their pensions regardless of the Methodist denomination with which they affiliate. Under the Protocol, conferences and local congregations would have to vote to separate from The United Methodist Church to affiliate with the new “Traditional” Methodist Church.
- Churches wishing to stay within The UMC (reference 1 above) would not be required to conduct a vote.
- An additional $2 million would be allocated for potential additional new Methodist denominations, which may emerge from The United Methodist Church.
- The Protocol would allocate $39 million to ensure there is no disruption in supporting ministries for communities historically marginalized by racism, violence, exploitation and discrimination.
- Under the Protocol, all administrative or judicial processes addressing restrictions in The Book of Discipline of The UMC related to self-avowed practicing homosexuals or same-sex weddings, as well as actions to close churches, would be held in abeyance until the separation is completed.
So why do you need to know all of this if the plan will not be voted on until May? You need to know because FUMC Greeley has two voting delegates at General Conference. Although these delegates vote based on the desires and convictions of our church body, we feel it is important with something of this magnitude to perform a ballot vote from each church member to ensure we are moving in unison with the entire church body represented. Ballots will be sent out in the not too distant future.
In the interim, we will be hosting Q&A sessions on Sunday, February 9th, in between the two services at 9:15-10:15 am; and Saturday, February 29th, at 10:00-11:00 am in the Fellowship Hall.
There is also additional information on the web as well as a way for you to submit questions online.
** If you do not have internet access, please contact the church office and let them know. We are working on ways to make sure everyone is informed, whether it be through postal mail or print outs.
Traditionalist Plan: Follow the formation of a new “Traditionalist” Methodist denomination which would adopt the existing Book of Discipline and become separate from the current UMC governing body. The existing Book of Discipline prohibits ordaining LGBTQ clergy and prohibits officiating at or hosting same-sex marriage
Progressive Plan: The Traditional Plan would be repealed and all current LGBTQ prohibitions with clergy, bishops and same sex marriage outlined in the Book of Discipline would be removed for The United Methodist Church.
And let us all remember that God loves us extravagantly, no matter what and we are loved beyond our ability to imagine.
May we all acknowledge our human limitations and ask the Spirit of the Lord to fall upon us to help discern and move forward to vote.
Video of Q & A Session of Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation