Dear First Family,
The work of the called session of the United Methodist General Conference has come to an end. Delegates from around the world will be returning home in the days ahead, and the question that leaders all across our United Methodist connection will be asked is this,
What was the outcome?
If you had the chance to attend one of our four town halls and hear an overview of the three main plans that were to be presented, the General Conference delegates approved the Traditional Plan. Simply stated, the General Conference voted to maintain the language added into the 1972 Book of Discipline prohibiting clergy participating in same gender weddings and the ordination of non-celibate gay clergy.
As a response to the outcome of General Conference, in the First 15 devotional for this morning I offered some reflections on the question, How might we pray like Jesus today? If you did not get a chance to see that, you can find that here.
For those who may have been following General Conference on social media or have read articles related to this outcome over the past 24 hours, as your pastor, I want to offer some clarity on what you may have read and speak to how this impacts the life we share together.
First, we believe that every person matters to God. Within the life of a global denomination, there are a whole host of issues that must be addressed on a regular basis. Yet, at their core, all issues are about people. They are about brothers and sisters, family members and friends, individuals we love and value, and we believe that each and every person is a person of sacred worth.
And it is because of this fundamental conviction that our mission is Making Disciples of Jesus Christ who love God, love others, and serve the world. This is the work that First Methodist Mansfield has done since 14 families established the Mansfield Methodist Church in 1885. This is the work we will continue to do. This is the mission Christ has given to the church. It will never change.
Second, everyone is welcome to be a part of this church family and the mission that we share. As with any family, sharing life together is never easy. There are no perfect churches or families. The best strive together to be perfected, to grow in love, and pursue holiness. And, even among our unavoidable imperfections, we seek to work together, in partnership with God’s Spirit, in order to fulfill the mission that is at the heart of all that we do.
If you have found spiritual nourishment in this church before General Conference, you will continue to find it here going forward.
The words of Paul in Colossians 3:12-14 are an important challenge to us today.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience are important words for us today.
Finally, our future will be determined by our faithfulness. For many years I have prayed that God would protect us from allowing what is happening around us to undermine what God is doing within us. In your life and mine, and in the life we share together, this is a constant threat to the health of our souls.
Proverbs 4:23 is worth memorizing and repeating every day.
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
You are a significant church. Faithfulness has been the defining mark of this church for generations. Obedience has fueled the great work for the last 134 years.
Your city needs you. The world needs you. Christ is counting on you. And I want you to hear again that I believe in you, your leadership believes in you and God believes in you.
I want everyone to be present in worship every weekend, but I especially hope you will be in one of our six services this weekend as we finish up our Rooted series. May Paul’s challenge in Galatians 6:10 encourage us this day and in all the days to come.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Grace & Peace,