Rev. Paul Rasmussen shares a message regarding the outcome of the General Conference of the UMC
Dear HPUMC Family,
The night before he was crucified, Jesus was restless as he anticipated future divisions and polarization in the church – the very instrument of His love. These are the words Jesus prayed:
"I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one — so that they may be brought to complete unity." - John 17: 22-23
Jesus was speaking of unity in faith when there is no unity elsewhere.
In the 2,000 years since that prayer, unity has often been elusive, particularly over matters of human sexuality. This past weekend, the General Conference of the United Methodist Church, the denomination’s primary legislative assembly, held a special gathering to render a decision on church doctrine as it relates to the ordination of LBGTQ clergy and same-sex marriage within the church. The Conference voted to adopt the “Traditional Plan,” which affirms the existing language prohibiting both, which has been present in our Book of Discipline since 1972.
Response to this decision has been as varied as the myriad viewpoints that make up our congregation. That diversity of thought is one of the hallmarks of our church. Some are supportive that this doctrine is being upheld. Some are grief-stricken that there has been no movement in its prohibitions. The deep divisions within our denomination impact all of us. And all are aware that this decision has surfaced pain and anxiety among our LGBTQ members, family, and friends.
What does this ruling mean to the mission of our church? As your Senior Minister, I want to assure you that our mission will not change:
We will continue to help people become deeply devoted followers of Jesus Christ.
For more than 100 years, HPUMC has been a “Big Tent” Church. The beauty of our congregation is that we do not all think alike, vote alike, or act alike. Our source of unity has been, and always will be, in Jesus Christ. With Christ as our anchor we worship, study, and serve the community together. What a remarkable witness in an increasingly polarized society!
The doctrine that was affirmed by the Traditional Plan is not new. HPUMC has operated under this same mandate for four decades, and we have steadfastly created a church culture that is welcoming to all. No matter where you fall on this issue, if you found spiritual nourishment in this church before the Conference, you will continue to find it here going forward.
Many of you have asked whether this decision is final. Not necessarily. Welcome to the world of United Methodism. This decision must go before the Judicial Council (the Supreme Court of church law) and will be reviewed in April. I have no way of predicting what the Judicial Council will rule. What I do know is that our focus remains on the immediate ministry of this local church despite any uncertainty born out of the complex process of our polity. We will continue to love, serve, bind up the wounds of those who hurt, welcome the broken, and live into the call of our witness as faithful disciples of Jesus Christ.
Since our inception in 1916, this church has moved through many times of angst, doctrinal disagreement, social unrest, world wars, global conflict, and myriad moments of uncertainty. With God’s help, we will continue to do so for generations to come.
Grace and Peace,