March, 1 2019
Dear Peachtree Road Family,
The special called session of the General Conference of the United Methodist Church has ended. In the last hour of the final session, delegates approved the “Traditional Plan” offered by the Commission on the Way Forward. What that means is that the General Conference has upheld its prohibition of gay weddings officiated by United Methodist clergy or taking place in United Methodist churches as well as the prohibition of ordination of self-avowed practicing homosexuals. Delegates also approved a plan providing a way for congregations that are not in agreement with the policies of the United Methodist Church to leave the denomination. What this means remains to be seen.
So, the Conference is over…but it’s not really over. Delegates referred the approved plan to the Judicial Council (the denomination’s “Supreme Court”) for a declaratory decision on its constitutionality. There is a great deal of speculation that it may in fact be unconstitutional. We will know after the Judicial Council meets in late April. So, the wait continues.
Peachtree Road is a large and diverse congregation. Our church consists of members who probably are heartened by this news and others who are heartbroken. To those who are heartbroken, know that your pain is understood by your pastors and fellow church members — you are loved. As I pronounced in my sermon on Sunday, every person is welcome at Peachtree Road:
“If you are a Democrat or Republican, you are welcome here. If you are black or white, you are welcome here. If you are religious, not religious, or spiritual-but-not-religious, you are welcome here. If you are gay or straight, you are welcome here. All are welcome at the table at Peachtree Road!”
Whenever there is conflict in the church, it is uncomfortable and even very painful. Oftentimes our first inclination is to run from the conflict. However, it is my experience that, in the midst of the conflict and pain, we are not alone, and oftentimes that is when God’s best work is done. Now is the time for us to seek God more earnestly and to draw even closer to one another. I also believe God is not finished with the people called Methodists, and especially the people of Peachtree Road. So, let us resolve to be Christ’s church, to work together to offer the light of Christ to all we meet, and to follow God’s leading as a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.
I do encourage you to pray for our denomination and for Peachtree Road. Our regular Wednesday mid-week prayer service is today at noon in the Moore Chapel. I invite you to join us for a time of prayer and reflection today. If we can help answer any of your questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or one of the other pastors.
I love each of you and am proud to be your pastor!