The new year is off to an exciting start within the United Methodist family. A year that was already expected to be fraught with nervousness regarding the church’s future and on-going discussions regarding human sexuality received a jolt of new energy, Friday, when a group of pastors and leaders in the church released a proposed settlement to separate the church at General Conference.
Almost immediately, the proposed settlement was picked up by religious and secular media as a done deal. Headlines were written to suggest that what was proposed was official. As a former reporter, the nature of who was around the table – bishops and leaders of various caucus groups – would lead those unfamiliar with the polity of the United Methodist Church to make that inaccurate assumption.
As we approach General Conference in May, the proposed settlement – which gives $25 million for a new traditionalist church – becomes one of several plans that will be up for consideration regarding the church’s future. It will be up to General Conference to determine the proposed settlement’s vitality and if it wants to approve it or another plan up for consideration.
While the proposed settlement offers an attempt to end the decades-long impasse within the church, there are more questions than answers within the document. Many of those questions will likely be answered during a press availability on January 13. Here are just some of the questions that need to be answered by the proposed settlement group prior to General Conference. Continue reading “Proposed Settlement Offers More Questions than Answers”
Next week, members of the Kentucky Annual Conference will gather in Covington at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center for Annual Conference. The three-day event is typically a “family reunion,” where friends gather to reconnect, worship, and discern where God is leading our movement in the coming year.
I’m usually excited for this annual gathering. This year, however, I dread going to annual conference.
It has nothing to do with fighting Northern Kentucky traffic. It has nothing to do with my annual search for an affordable meal option. It even has nothing to do with the long lines for coffee during breaks.
It has everything to do with the current state of our denomination. We are in a state of infighting, which is not healthy for the long-term mission and vitality of the church. Continue reading “Why I’m Not Looking Forward to Annual Conference”
One of the joys of being a United Methodist pastor is leading my congregation towards a deeper appreciation and understanding of the sacraments of communion and baptism. I firmly believe that each time we celebrate the sacraments of communion and baptism that it gives us a time to reflect on what they mean for us and how they call us to live today.
Our liturgy helps us in this. Each time we gather to celebrate communion, for instance, we do so through a prayer we call “The Great Thanksgiving.” It is a beautiful prayer that reminds us of God’s faithfulness, Christ’s passion, and the power of the Holy Spirit that equips us to be the church today.
There is one portion of the prayer that always seem to move me. A portion that reminds me of the difficult and challenging life that God calls us to in this time we find ourselves.
By your Spirit make us one in Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world until Christ comes in final victory and we feast at his heavenly banquet. Continue reading “A Prayer for Unity in Restless Times”
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