Dear members and friends of the Christ Church community,
Today’s media blaze headlines announced that on Tuesday the United Methodist Church voted to strengthen its ban on gay and lesbian clergy and same-sex marriages. Personally, this news hits like a punch to the gut. I am deeply grieved by this development and profoundly sorry for the harm this inflicts on our LGBTQIA members and friends at Christ Church, and around the Methodist connection the world over.
But I also want to make clear that this action in no way cancels our commitment to provide community, sacraments, and the full services and programs of our faith family to everyone who seeks after the heart of God. We remain devoted to our mission to love God above all things, and our neighbors as ourselves—all of them, in all their wondrous variety! We do this because we follow the pattern Jesus established. We are undeterred.
And we redouble our gratitude for the gifts that our LGBTQIA friends gladly share for the sake of the gospel of love, now integral to our community’s strength and vitality. Thank God for their presence, passion, and powerful witness to the wideness of God’s grace! (Here’s where you can learn about the depth of our commitment to the full inclusion of LGBTQIA in church life and ministry.)
There are a few conference details you should know: 1) The so-called “Traditional Plan” that was passed by a slim majority of delegates had already been deemed largely unconstitutional by the church’s Judicial Council, and has been remanded back to them for further analysis. This process will take months to play out. 2) Several petitions pertaining to dissolution were also sent to the Judicial Council to determine their constitutionality. This means no exit strategy for clergy, churches and/or conferences yet exists for those who may seek to restructure denominational commitments. 3) As a result, there is no effective outcome to which we must formally respond at this point and most matters likely will not be resolved until the next General Conference in May 2020.
While I am profoundly disappointed in what transpired over these last days, I remain quite hopeful about the future. Christ Church has a very clear self-identity, a compelling mission, a focused vision for the next years ahead, an excellent leader corps, a wide embrace of the diverse people of the city, and a warm and heartfelt, biblically-informed faith open to the new thing God has in store. I’m feeling this whole mess actually helps clarify and strengthen our essential commitments. Our local setting is where faith gets worked out, not in a dis-embodied win-lose conference. Each of us has a role to play in helping bring about God’s kingdom on earth.
This Sunday, we will again gather in worship at 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.—I encourage you to join us as an act of solidarity. We need one another in this moment to show our love for those who may feel the sting of exclusion and also to demonstrate our resolve to love big. In between services at 10:00 a.m., I’ll host a conversation to further unpack our current situation. You may also be interested in attending the conversation we are hosting on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. about “Kenya & East Africa on LGBTQ+ People of Faith” with UMC District Superintendent of Kenya, Rev. Kennedy Mwita.
I so look forward to seeing you! And I remain so deeply thankful for the life and work we share. We are a most unlikely agglomerated family, a wonder, really. A gift to one another and to our city as we continue to grow into the call God has set before us.
You’ve heard me say it before…but now more than ever, gratitude abounds!
Rev. Dr. Stephen Bauman