Dear Friends in Christ,
I write to laity and clergy of the Central Texas Conference in the aftermath of the recently concluded Called General Conference held in St. Louis. In the wake of a bruising struggle over the United Methodist Church’s doctrinal position regarding human sexuality and the inclusion of our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters, pain, anger and disappointment swirls around and within us for all involved. I write to remind us all of the United Methodist Churches doctrinal conviction that “all persons are individuals of sacred worth created in the image of God. … We commit ourselves to be in ministry for and with all persons.” (The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church 2016, ¶161G, p. 113) I wish to emphasize that all people are welcome in the United Methodist Church and especially in the churches of the Central Texas Conference. The following link provides a summary of the actions taken by General Conference and other important information you may wish to share with your congregations.
I urge us to treat each other, especially those who are hurting, with the compassion of Christ. In the name of the Savior of us all, let us resist the temptation to demonize those with whom we disagree. Let the words of the Apostle Paul to the Philippians guide and guard our conversations with each other. “If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, 2 make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. 5 Let the same mind be in you that was[a] in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 2:1-5, NRSV)
I believe God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit is now calling us to a time of healing and prayerful discernment. I ask us both individually and collectively as congregations to catch our breath. This is a time to turn back to the Lord in prayerful patience. However deeply we may feel this is not a time for angry words. It is a time for compassion, understanding and care for all. May we together as congregations enter a 30 period of prayer and discernment as we seek to sort out what we (both personally and as congregations) try to determine our next steps in faithfulness.
Together I call on us to keep our focus on our mission to “make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” This is our WIG our Wildly Important Goal given us by our risen Savior in Matthew 28.
Below is a statement issued by Bishop Ken Carter, President of the Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church.
Regardless of where you stand on this contentious issue,
Yours in Christ, Yours in Christ,