Pastor Debbie's E-Spire - January 9, 2020

Good morning!
Last week you probably saw that the UMC was in the news. A cohort of 16 leaders of varying perspectives had been meeting for months with a professional mediator to help them decide terms of potential division (not exactly a split, since the denomination wouldn't be divided down the middle, but instead allows a gracious plan for a group that isn't prepared to live under a more inclusive polity). The cohort then released its "Protocol of reconciliation and grace through separation" on January 3, 2020. National media groups interpreted the protocol as an actual "split" in the denomination. This is not the case. The ONLY body within the UMC that could decide the terms of a "split" (or otherwise) is the General Conference (scheduled to meet in May in Minneapolis).

The protocol will be sent to the Judicial Council (like the Supreme Court) to rule on the constitutionality (per church law) of what is proposed. The protocol will be but one (or 4 or 8---or more depending on how many different pieces of law it will have to address) piece of legislation to be considered at General Conference. However, what it seeks to do is take precedence over the other proposals (because of the diversity of those who participated in forming it) in a way that would expedite the various types of meetings that need to take place (global, regional, and possibly a break-off group) assuming some type of separation.

The 16 representatives are from varying theological perspectives and are part of different groups in the UMC. They are people who have invested considerable time and energy into figuring out a possibility for moving forward without tearing apart the church so many of us know and love. They have tried to address some of the big issues that remain untouched with some of the other legislation (or possibly simply a place where there will be a considerable debate). Some of those areas include how we would fund the group/s that break off, how we would fund ministries aimed at traditionally marginalized or excluded people groups, how clergy might maintain their pension plan, and how all of us stay deeply invested in the global church. For an FAQ of the people and the process, click here.

It should also be noted that they are also not the only group to have been convening to determine avenues for a different future (within and without the UMC). Some of those groups and proposals were previously shared, and others are still in the midst of their work. Attached is a pdf of the different plans, pros and cons, and additional information. This may be too "deep in the weeds" for many folks but may be of great interest to others. Use it for what it is worth to you. It was put together by another clergywoman and can be helpful to see the plans compared side by side.

As I have said many times before, nothing is "sure" yet. General Conference (as a voting body) holds the power. Please be in prayer for each of the delegates and bishops as they read the legislation, pray for the church, seek wisdom, and are in conversation with others. In the meantime, we at Moscow FUMC will continue to live our faith as we love God and love neighbor.

As always, I am here if you have any questions.

Peace and grace,
Pastor Debbie

 

 

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