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Update on UMC news

Beloved Washington Farm Family,

I am still on vacation and so won’t be with you in worship but like many of of you I have heard and read some provocative and occasionally misleading headlines about happenings in our denomination this weekend. The release of the “Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation,” while significant does not actually make any change in the United Methodist Church. It is another recommendation for General Conference which will be meeting again in May 2020. The United Methodist Church has not split, and we are no closer to splitting today than we were Thursday. 

This protocol is significant because of the diversity of stakeholders involved, including international representatives, caucus leaders covering the breadth of the political/theological spectrum, and UMC bishops. The protocol, however interesting and hopeful for offering a resolution, also is not a done deal. Only General Conference can officially speak on behalf of the United Methodist Church, not even the Council of Bishops can make official statements or changes to church structure. Any proposals must be transformed into actual legislation, be reviewed by our UMC Judicial Council for constitutional issues, and actually be passed by our 800+ member international General Conference in May 2020.

I found Bishop Ken Carter’s word’s today helpful. He reminded us that the sixteen people who met did this work in service to the delegates who will go to the General Conference. They represented very different values and constituencies in our twelve million member global church. He goes on to point out that those same differences are present in all United Methodist churches. We are people, not issues. We know one another beyond our individual beliefs in issues.

For the vast majority of United Methodists I have known, the last thing we think about when we gather as the church is where we fall on this spectrum. United Methodists I have known have sought to be faithful disciples to Jesus Christ through the scripture in the context of their community. This has taken different expressions in every community I have served as no community is the same. But all United Methodists I have known have been deeply committed to welcome all people into the full life and ministry of the church, and into the grace and love of God. The differences of individuals have always been lifted up and celebrated as opportunities for us to experience God’s grace in new ways. Sometimes these are not comfortable and sometimes these new ways are just what we have been missing. 

Unfortunately, The Washington Post, NY Times, and even PBSNews are not always great news sources for what is happening in our denomination. They are writing news quickly and are not taking the time to understand the complexity of our polity. And it is complex! 

A good place to start for understanding the protocol is this accurate article from the Associated Press: https://apnews.com/23750a56d8dd88e68ea343ff4a8cead6

To dig deeper, here is the Press Release about the Protocol: https://www.unitedmethodistbishops.org/…/united-methodist-t…

Also useful are these Frequently Asked Questions: https://www.unitedmethodistbishops.org/…/frequently-asked-q…

If you really want to get in-depth, you can read the entire proposal here: https://www.unitedmethodistbishops.org/files/websites/www/pdfs/signed+umc+mediation+protocoal+statement+-2020.pdf 

If you would like to talk to me in more depth about this proposal or any others that are coming before General Conference in May, please feel free to email, call or stop by this week. I am back in the office on Monday at 9:30. My cellphone number has changed so be sure to call the church office to get the new number.

With love, 

Pastor Christina

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