When: 11/19/2018 - 12/14/2018 All DayView more details
A Way Forward and Marriage at Myers Park
A Way Forward : A Letter to the Congregation
View an update about what’s going on in our denomination with respect to the issues of human sexuality from Dr. Howell and Kate Maynard here.
This letter is a follow-up to our April 25th email regarding the United Methodist Church’s efforts to end a decades-long impasse on issues related to human sexuality and LGBTQ inclusion. As you may recall, the church in 2016 appointed a representative group called the “Commission on A Way Forward” to formulate recommendations on this matter. Our denomination’s decision-making body, the General Conference, will hold a special meeting in February 2019 to act on the Commission’s recommendations.
This summer, after reviewing three alternative plans, the Council of Bishops formally endorsed the Commission recommendation known as the “One Church Plan.” The bishops believe that the One Church Plan represents the best means to maintain unity and advance the Church’s global ministry, in the face of sincere disagreements that exist regarding LGBTQ inclusion.
Specifically, the One Church Plan would allow each conference, each pastor, and each congregation to make decisions about how best to serve the people who live in their own respective communities. The perceived benefit of this plan is that it allows room for ongoing disagreement regarding issues of inclusion, while maintaining denominational unity. Specifically, the plan removes restrictive language from the church’s Book of Discipline and does not impose a single standard of LGBTQ inclusion across the global church.
The alternative plans to be presented at the General Conference in February 2019 would not allow for the same result.
- The so-called “Traditionalist Plan” does not allow for differing beliefs regarding human sexuality. Rather, it affirms that homosexuality is “incompatible” with Christian teaching and would strengthen enforcement for violations of church law.
- The so-called “Connectional Plan” proposes a multi-branch church that would result in a very different- looking United Methodist Church.
At this time, it is simply not possible to predict the outcome of the 2019 General Conference. It’s conceivable that one of these three plans would be adopted or that no proposal would gain enough support to sustain a church-wide consensus.
Dr. Howell has long been an advocate of embracing disagreement within the church on these issues. He is also one of the leaders of a group called “Uniting Methodists,” an organization that our church has helped to fund. Uniting Methodists is determined to find a way for the Church to stay together, despite divergence on these questions.
At Myers Park, we began thoughtful discussions on issues related to human sexuality, same gender marriage and our clergy’s ministry in 2015. As you may recall, Dr. Howell taught a class on what the Bible says about homosexuality. Our lay leadership communicated their prayerful decision to support our clergy in exercising individual discretion when deciding whom to marry. In addition, we held congregation-wide discussions [link] on same-gender marriage. Through these shared experiences, our large congregation acknowledged that we are not of one mind on these issues. Nonetheless, there was broad consensus that we should continue to love and respect one another despite differing opinions.
With that same love, respect and togetherness, our Myers Park church family will be awaiting the outcome of the General Conference in February 2019. We will continue to study and reflect on what impact the possible outcomes may have on our church. As the General Conference approaches, we want to continue providing you with opportunities to learn, discuss and pray regarding the best way forward.
Between now and February 23, pray for our church, the general conference delegates
Marriage at Myers Park: A Letter to the Congregation
The following letter is signed by Dick Carter (Lay Leader); Mark Kinghorn (Administrative Board Chair 2016-17); Jim Rogers (Administrative Board Chair 2014-15); Dennis Soter (Finance Chair 2016-17); John Clarkson (Finance Chair 2013-15); Kate Maynard (Staff Parish Chair 2015-16); Fred Bright (Staff Parish Chair 2013-14); and Johanna Anderson (Board of Trustees Chair 2014-15).
Dear fellow members of Myers Park United Methodist Church,
As the current and recent chairs of our church’s governing committees, we are writing to you about an issue that we believe to be of significant importance to our entire church family.
As a result of the Supreme Court’s decision last year recognizing the legal right of same gender couples to marry, many questions have arisen about same gender marriage for us at Myers Park Methodist, including whether our church will host same gender weddings and whether our clergy will perform such weddings.
In considering these questions, we are guided by our church’s mission statement: “We are the body of Christ, growing in faith and serving others.” We value the fact that Myers Park Methodist has always been a place where differences can be embraced in a manner that reflects the inherent diversity of the body of Christ. We recognize and appreciate that individuals in our church family hold differing beliefs, opinions and emotions about human sexuality and same gender marriage. We believe that through compassion and openness to each other, our church family can explore these questions, and any other questions, with respect, love and unity.
While The Book of Discipline, which governs the United Methodist Church, contains provisions opposing homosexuality, there is great disagreement within the denomination on this issue. The Book of Discipline also provides that our clergy have the responsibility to provide their best pastoral care for their people. This includes deciding whom they will marry. In making this decision, our clergy are guided by state law, the rules of the United Methodist Church, and individual church policies like ours, which stipulate that one must be an active member of the church to be married in our church.
As you can imagine, United Methodist ministers across the country are making individual decisions about whom to marry. Some are choosing to marry same gender couples, notwithstanding the denominational stance, and some are choosing not to do so.
After prayer and discussion, we affirm support for our Myers Park Methodist clergy as they make individual decisions about whom they will marry through personal prayer and discernment.
Your thoughts are important to us. We believe this is one more opportunity for us to be the Body of Christ, loving one another, honoring our differences and bearing witness to God’s love for all of us as together we continue in our collective mission to grow in faith and serve others.