God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with tumult.
Dear Beloved in Christ,
Greetings in the precious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
We have just concluded the special session of the General Conference in St Louis. During this gathering of the global church, we worshiped and prayed together and spent time in Christian conferencing, but much remains unresolved and unknown.
Though the actions of the General Conference are still subject to review by the Judicial Council, we return with a Book of Discipline that moves us further from full inclusion. This is disheartening at best and despairing at worst.
While our call as United Methodists is to do good, do no harm, and stay in love with God … I suspect we have fallen far shorter on the first two than the last. I ask that we spend time in prayerful confession of the ways our church has caused deep pain to beloved children of God, particularly LGBTQIA and their allies. No matter what plan you supported for the way forward, remember that when one part of the body suffers, so do we all – and so now we are all in need of healing.
My prayers continue for our church and for each of you in this covenantal community, for all LGBTQIA children of God and their allies, as well as for those who are listening to our words and watching our actions.
I continue to pray for a day when we can live together in the unified Spirit in a fully inclusive church. I celebrate the beauty and rich variety of gifts that God has created, and I have faith that God will create, in and through us, a beautiful incarnation of the Body of Christ for the transformation of the whole world.
As you gather with your congregations this Sunday, I pray you will build up one another in love, caring for each other’s needs, and praying for God’s spirit to inspire you to witness to Christ’s love in your communities.
In the next two weeks, your superintendents, in coordination with our delegation to this special session of General Conference, have scheduled opportunities for you to gather for support, prayer, and “Courageous Conversations” with one another as we process the actions – and inactions – of the general church and seek a faithful response. I hope and pray these will be opportunities for us to do good and begin to heal while we stay in love with God and each other.
May our faithful God hold us in strength as we witness to the powerful love of Christ, filled with the Holy Spirit, for such a time as this.
In Christ’s Love,