Update From Upstairs - September
Updates From Upstairs
This is the section of our newsletter where I (Pastor JJ) will try to keep you informed on some of the denominational kerfuffles going on at the district and global levels. These are very important conversations, but do not necessarily affect the day-to-day work of church life.
Before the pandemic, we had a vision statement as a church that was “Eyes Up, Flushing.” It was a message that came from the story of Peter walking on the water with Jesus. When he kept his eyes on Jesus, he did just fine – but when he took his eyes off of Jesus and looked at the stormy waves around him, he began to sink. This will be the final “Update From Upstairs” section of the newsletter. Unfortunately the dialogue about human sexuality and LGBTQ+ inclusion has escalated from a conversation to a conflict. There are many negative news stories out there to illustrate that. I had a friend say years ago, “we’re going to have this conversation, but we’re not going to lose friends over it.” Unfortunately, I think a lot of people are scared about what might come – and it has caused folks from both sides to lash out and hurt others.
But as a church, no matter what happens, I want us to keep our eyes on Jesus. Jesus is not glorified when we attack the United Methodist Church. Jesus is not honored when we smear the Global Methodist Church. Nobody wins when we fight one another. It is possible to not only survive this turmoil, but to thrive and grow stronger because of it – BUT NOT if we attack one another. It’s okay to disagree, but we must always keep our eyes on Jesus. Eyes up, Flushing.
My final piece of advice when it comes to denominational kerfuffles is that the only hope for this church (and every church) is to keep your eyes on Jesus. Don’t give in to the temptation to fight. One of my absolute favorite things about this congregation is the beautiful diversity of thought in our pews. We have always managed to be people who disagree and yet put aside disagreements to work together to love Jesus and love our neighbor. Keep the main thing the main thing – don’t take your eyes off of loving God and loving neighbor. Eyes up, Flushing. We will make it through this yet.
Here are some of the main points to remember:
-As a denomination, we are voting on denominational policies, we are NOT voting on whether or not we love one another.
-A good rule of thumb to keep love a priority in these conversations is to imagine that your words are being heard by all sides.
-The UMC is CURRENTLY a “traditionalist” denomination, and the Global Methodist Church is seeking to carry on that legacy. The social policies of the Global Methodist Church will be almost identical to the CURRENT policies of the United Methodist Church.
-The Book of Discipline in the UMC states, “We implore families and churches not to reject or condemn lesbian and gay members and friends. We commit ourselves to be in ministry for and with all persons.” A disagreement on sexual ethics is not a rejection of an entire person.
-When you hear something negative about one group or the other, ask yourself – does this line up with the actual person in my life who I know and love?