Yesterday was Epiphany Day
, the day of the traditional celebration of the wisemen’s (magi’s) arrival in Bethlehem. Matthew shares this profound offering from Gentile non-believers (probably followers of Zoroasterism
When they saw the star, they were filled with joy. 11 They entered the house and saw the child with Mary his mother. Falling to their knees, they honored him. Then they opened their treasure chests and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 Because they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they went back to their own country by another route. (Matthew 2:10-12)
I open with such a passage to remind us that, as we face the uncertain future of the United Methodist Church and possible multiple versions of the Methodist movement, whatever our position and wherever we are in regard to the various issues that divide us, Christ is at the center. We come first, foremost and always to offer ourselves to our Savior and Lord!
Recently, a new proposal to General Conference titled Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation
has been published. In my comments
following the release of “The Protocol agreement,” I specifically referenced Ephesians 1:22-23.
“God put everything under Christ’s feet and made him head of everything in the church, which is his body. His body, the church, is the fullness of Christ, who fills everything in every way.”
I deeply believe that God, in Christ, through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit is reforming the church once again. No matter how unclear the future is to us, we know who holds the future!
I write today, in part, to re-emphasize my call to prayer for General Conference as a whole and our CTC Delegation in particular; my urging of a careful reading of the proposed Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation statement
; and a heartfelt invitation to engage in respectful dialogue and conversations that span the theological divide. Vance Morton, the Central Texas Conference Director of Communications and IT, has pulled together a FAQ document
, which should help greatly in understanding “the Protocol” document. You can access and/or download the FAQ at ctcumc.org/TheProtocol_FAQ
. Several reports in the secular press have given inaccurate impressions regarding the immediate import of this proposal.
Please allow me to emphasize a few key points to help clear up any misconceptions caused by these inaccurate reports.
The United Methodist Church has not decided to separate.
This is simply a proposal. It is not church law (Discipline). Only General Conference can change the Discipline of the United Methodist Church (our church law). Our current church doctrine has not changed.
The General Conference next meets this May 5-15 in Minneapolis, Minn. to consider this and various other proposals for the future of the United Methodist Church.
The Central Texas Conference delegation
, which was elected at our last Annual Conference in June, will represent us and be voting on the various proposals. The CTC’s General Conference 2020 Delegation is made up of four lay and four clergy representatives. Visit ctcumc.org/delegation2020
to see our entire delegation. Please feel free to provide them your respectful feedback at email@example.com
and be in prayer for them and for the church as a whole.
While there is a recommendation for a moratorium on church trials related to LGBTQ issues prior to General Conference, I have taken a vow to God to uphold church Discipline. As a practical matter, I have no active complaints before me at this time. It takes approximately 90 to 120 days to prepare for and hold a trial. By that time General Conference would be in session.
I wish to note with many of my colleague bishops that significant questions remain to be answered about “The Protocol’s” implementation. In all likelihood, the Judicial Council will need to rule on its constitutionality. Various details and the feasibility of its financial provisions must also be evaluated and carefully worked through.
In the Central Texas Conference, as your bishop and in partnership with the Cabinet, we will seek to handle these issues prayerfully, with compassion, in a manner that is scrupulously fair, and as transparent as possible, in whatever process is finally adopted.
Matthew opens his gospel in adoration of the new born Savior and closes with the Savior’s resounding Great Commission.
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
Together, we remain committed to our Wildly Important Goal (WIG) of “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” I urge us all to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Throughout this process, and in all things, it is important to remember to Breathe Deep, for Jesus is truly Lord!