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To the Saints that are in Los Osos,
June is many things to many people. For most of us, even long after we have finished school, it is the beginning of summer vacation. For many it’s the beginning of beach weather and barbecues. It has the summer solstice, which marks the beginning of summer – this year it is June 21. June is light on major holidays. We celebrate Father’s Day on the third Sunday of June, Flag Day, (the most minor of the patriotic holidays), on the 14th, and many of us mark Juneteenth on the 19th as the day that many slaves were actually freed, (June 19, 1865). June is also graduation for many people. Depending on the level, graduation marks smaller or larger life transitions.
June has additional meanings for United Methodists and is often a time of transition. All clergy, and an equal number of lay delegates travel to their Annual Conferences. Some clergy will move or retire so June is moving month, a time for churches and clergy to say goodbye and to prepare for the future. In our cluster I am saying goodbye to three colleagues. Two are retiring and one is moving.
For us as United Methodists this June is a time of transition for another reason. As a result of the passage of the Traditional Plan at the Special General Conference in February, Annual Conferences will be discerning how we are to move forward. There have been several national meetings within the church wrestling with this very question of how the church can be open to LGBTQ+ Christians. The two most prominent were held in May, the UMCNext conference called by UM Mega Church Pastor Adam Hamilton and the Our Movement Forward summit, which included concerns for women and people of color as well. On the traditionalist side the Wesleyan Covenant Association and the Good News Movement are working to strengthen the sanctions that were adopted in February.
No one knows exactly where we will be in a year, but in our Annual Conference we seem to be battening down the hatches. The Western Jurisdiction, of which we are part, has said that it will not enforce the provisions of the Traditional Plan. Our Annual Conference will doubtless be considering what that will look like for us. Built into our agenda are dialogue and teaching times titled #ISEEANEWCHURCH.
There are several petitions before the Annual Conference that deal with the 2019 Special General Conference. Among them there is a petition disavowing the Traditional Plan and another opposing it, another for the support of the Western Jurisdiction’s actions, and another calling for non-conformity with the 2019 General Conference.
Most tellingly, there is a petition to direct the Conference Board of Trustees to prepare a plan “for disaffiliation from the United Methodist Church which maximizes the retention of the annual conference’s financial, property, and other resources.” This plan would be used only if actions of the 2020 General Conference would make it necessary.
See you in Church,