My thoughts on the UMC in the news
Dear HPUMC Family & Friends,
Many of you may have seen the press coverage concerning the global United Methodist Church. Since July 2019 a group of United Methodist leaders, representing the wide range of theological positions within the denomination, have been negotiating to find a way through the United Methodist Church’s impasse on the issue of human sexuality.
This past week these negotiations, aided by renowned mediator, Kenneth Feinburg (special mediator for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund), culminated in an agreement-in-principle that was unanimously endorsed by all participants. It provides for the retention of the United Methodist Church as we know it, but also provides generous and gracious pathways for some United Methodists, on both the right and left sides of the theological spectrum, to form new denominations that will endorse different doctrinal standards.
The media refers to this negatively as a “split.” However, I believe that a thoughtful, mediated plan for amicable separation is a good thing. For details, I’ll refer you to the following site: Reconciliation and Grace through Separation.
It is crucial to understand the following points:
- This agreement is, at this point, informal and non-binding. It must be passed by the upcoming General Conference in May. As history has shown, that is an extraordinarily complex bureaucratic process. I have no way of knowing the outcome. In the meantime, my goal for HPUMC is to remain focused on being an exceptional local congregation.
- There are no decisions or votes that need to be made at this point. The structure of the agreement provides for the real possibility that many, if not most, local churches will never need to vote at all.
- With a task force of laity and staff, HPUMC has been and will continue to be proactive in assessing every option for our congregation.
- I believe that this proposal represents the best possible outcome given United Methodist disagreements on human sexuality. I believe that it will enable Methodists of all convictions to remain strong witnesses to the love of Christ.
- We want to provide blessings to colleagues and friends who, in good conscience, seek to depart to form different expressions of the Wesleyan theological tradition.
As your pastor, I hold fast to the invitation of Jesus in Matthew 6:34: Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. For me, Christ’s invitation is not a denial about the road ahead. It’s a clarion call to remain confident in our faith and purpose.
For over 100 years, HPUMC has been a vital, thriving “big tent” church. By “big tent”, we have always been theologically centrist – celebrating the Wesleyan understanding that the church is strongest where people can agree to disagree on many non-essential issues in a spirit of grace. We have always favored the grace of Christ over paralyzing doctrine and dogma. I believe that is one of the reasons God has blessed HPUMC with growth and health. As this denominational process unfolds, HPUMC will continue to operate under the mandate of our mission: to help people become deeply devoted followers of Jesus Christ.
As we move into 2020, thank you for the effective, grace-based ministry that you, with God’s blessing, made possible in the past year. I am eager to join you in even more exciting and transforming ministries in the year ahead.
Grace & Peace,
Rev. Paul L. Rasmussen