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To the Saints that are in Los Osos,
In most years, February is a fairly quiet month. We celebrate Valentine’s Day, watch the Super Bowl, and some of us celebrate Groundhog’s Day. We do get a day off for President’s Day. For most people this February will be pretty much like every February. For us Methodists, it is a time of uncertainty and probable change.
Last month I wrote about the upcoming Special General Conference that (might) finally settle the question that Methodists have been debating for forty-seven years, at least for a large portion of the church. Delegates will gather from all over the globe to try to determine what we will do with reference of the inclusion of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters.
Since writing last month’s column I’ve been asked more frequently what I think will happen. I’ll tell you – I don’t know – and neither does anyone else. Many people have written about what will happen if this plan passes, or that one does. There has been a lot of information, and a lot of misinformation and fear. Some have noted that we may not pass a plan at all and find ourselves still in the middle of the argument at our regular General Conference in 2020. One of the plans will most likely negatively affect the pension of some clergy, but beyond that, no one knows.
My prediction is that on February 27, the day after the Special General Conference ends and whichever plan passes, we still won’t really know. Those churches and Annual Conferences that are pleased with the outcome no less than those who are displeased will be at the beginning of a process that will decide the future. While the “One Church Plan,” if it passed, would have the least disruptive effect of the largest number of churches, we will still have to wait for the dust to settle before we really know what it all means.
I do know some things that will happen because they don’t depend on the structure, the institution and the hierarchy of the United Methodist Church. Local churches will continue to feed and clothe those in need. Local churches will continue to share fellowship fun events. Local churches will continue to cherish and teach their children. Local churches will continue honor and care for their senior members. Local churches will continue to pray and care for the sick. Local churches will still be communities of love. Local churches will raise their voices in songs of praise and thanksgiving to God for God’s love and mercies. In short, local churches will continue to be the people of God.
It is a nervous time, and it may continue so for some while. Let us pray fervently that love might prevail and the church open its arms to embrace all of God’s children, but whatever happens, God remains God, and God’s love for us is eternal. Remember the promise Jesus made as he left his disciples to continue his work on earth, “remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20).
See you in Church,