This past week the Special General Conference came together to vote on plans about same sex marriages and ordination of gay and lesbian clergy. As many of you know, the Traditional Plan passed. “Now what?” you might say. Well, really nothing changes as the Book of Discipline will still state “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” The changes occur on the implementation of this through the Board of Ordained Ministry. I am disappointed in this outcome for many reasons. The main one is that at General Conference both sides didn’t listen to one another. They just waited until the other one stopped talking to voice their own opinion. There was no real dialogue. The another point is that our LGBTQA brothers and sisters are not less than or second class. They are children of God. They are part of the body of Christ. They are part of the future of the church.
I have been a United Methodist my whole life and felt a calling to serve this denomination to see it truly be a connectional church that lives fully into the gospel. I have seen posts and blogs, tweets and texts that are filled with sadness, anger, and frustration. I feel that way too. But I am still hopeful. Hopeful for a change because – WE are still the church, WE are still called to love, and WE are still called to be accepting and welcoming as ever. We are called to meet people where they are at.
I was reminded this week about Solomon’s wisdom in 1 King’s 3:16-28. There is no way to know if the woman who was declared the “mother” actually gave birth to the baby but what we know is she loved the baby like a mother. As I think about this and everything that played out at the General Conference, it tells me that the Church is for the people and it can only belong to the people who don’t want division, people who love her, the church. I know some of you are disappointed with the outcome and some of you might have question how we could have stayed together under the One Church Plan with such different understandings of scripture. What I do want to say is that ALL people are welcomed here at Crossroads and to create change must come from within.
If anyone wants to discuss this further, then come and talk with me. I am here to listen and sit with you. I will offer grace and comfort. And I know there is a way forward and not backwards. Because as the psalmist says “But as for me, I will always have hope.” (Psalm 71: 14) I have hope because I know Jesus lived, died and rose on the 3rd day for the sins of this world. He doesn’t judge, he accepts and loves. His grace fills in where we don’t understand. There is one commandment that Jesus gives us to follow and it’s to love our God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. And right now – that is what we are going to do.
Grace and peace,
Note: Bishop Saenz has written a letter to all clergy and laity in the Great Plains Conference regarding the recently completed 2019 special session of General Conference.
You are invited to share this letter as you see fit. Download Bishop Saenz letter – 3.2.19 in PDF format.