Dear TUMC Family,
These are historic days for the United Methodist Church. Over the next four days, delegates and observers from all over the world will meet in St. Louis for an unprecedented special session of our General Conference with one goal: to find a way for our diverse, global denomination to move forward in ministry together despite differing views (and laws) on human sexuality while preserving as much unity as possible. Chances are the denomination will look different next Wednesday than it does today, even if the conference itself changes very little.
It has been difficult watching the church that has nurtured and grown my faith in Jesus — a church that I have committed my whole life to serving — going through such a challenging time. People I dearly love and respect are at odds with each other on big topics like biblical interpretation and the practices that come from differing understandings of scripture. As hard as this has been, I believe God is bringing good from it as we seek the Spirit’s leading.
No matter what happens as a result of this General Conference, I believe our best days are ahead of us. The United Methodist Church is a place that holds the extreme center, a church of the “and” rather than the “or.” We are able to hold opposable viewpoints in tension in ways that few institutions can in our day. We are in a unique position to witness to a nation that is becoming increasingly polarized that people who are not in complete agreement with one another can be in relationship with one another and seek Christ together. We can walk alongside each other, embrace one another, and unite around a common mission.
Like the broader culture and denomination, TUMC members represent a diversity of understanding on the topic of human sexuality. Yet, we stand together as one family who welcomes all people regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. We serve and care for all people no matter who they are, how they are affected, or where they stand in relation to this important matter. We are committed to stand against bullying in all of its various forms and seek to love all persons as Christ loves us and gave himself for us.
No matter what you hear surrounding General Conference, I want you to know that you are all of infinite value and matchless worth in God’s eyes.
Whether we wake up next Wednesday to a different United Methodist Church or nothing has changed from the day before, I want you to know that you are dearly loved by our TUMC family. Whether you are homosexual or heterosexual, cisgendered or transgendered, you are a treasured part of our family and we are not who we are without you. I am honored to be Pastor to each and every one of you and am committed to seeking God and walking hand and hand together with you through all that lies ahead.
Please join me in prayer for our General Conference; especially that God’s presence and power will be known by every delegate and observer and that the Holy Spirit will lead us to clarity and peace as we move forward together. I will bring us together to process both the General Conference and what it may mean for us moving forward. There will be ample time for prayer and conversation before any decisions would need to be made. If you have any questions or concerns about what you are hearing, please reach out to me. Finally, I ask that everyone stay at the table. We need one another and are stronger together. We are one family in Christ and that will not change because of a meeting in St. Louis. Austin will need us to be as strong next Wednesday as we are today.
I look forward to all that God has in store for us as we journey together in our mission to glorify God and make disciples by “joining God’s work here and now by serving our neighbors far and near.”
Yours in Christ,