From the Pastor’s Desk – August 2015
It is that time of year, again:
Monday, September 14, 7:00 PM
Rev. Tim Rogers, Marion District Superintendent, presiding
Yes, this is whoppingly early—this year. But, frankly, it’s our turn. In
past years, when we’ve enjoyed the luxury of easy preparation time into October-November, other pastors with two and three churches were the first ones on the schedule. So, we can do this and we will do this, with your help.
A. Committees are being notified to get their 2016 budgets in order and to the Finance Committee by August 10 (Forms are available in Asbury Hall.).
B. The Nominations Committee has set aside five straight Mondays to prepare our roster of Lay Leadership for 2016. (Yes, you need to be prepared to prayerfully accept their invitation to serve.)
C. Other groups and committees will be completing reports of activities up to this point in the year.
So if I seem distracted more than usual in the next several weeks, it’s probably because I’m either working on a sermon or on charge conference.
Rev. Tim Rogers, our Marion District Superintendent, has sent to each of our churches a letter from Bishop Jonathan Holston which reads in part:
“By now you have heard of the Supreme Court decision that has made marriages between same-gender couples legal in the United States. The Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church has stated the following:
“The Court decision contains the following statements concerning the rights of religious persons and organizations:
‘Many who deem same-sex marriage to be wrong reach that conclusion based on decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises, and neither they nor their beliefs are disparaged here.
‘Finally, religions, and those who continue to adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they teach the principles that are so fulfilling and central to their lives and faiths…”
(The Bishop continues)
“Since the Court’s decision is directed at state laws that bar same-gender persons from marriage and not to clergy persons who may be prohibited by religious doctrine and church law from officiating at those ceremonies, my opinion is that the decision does not change the church law of the United Methodist Church. In addition, the ‘free exercise’ clause of the First Amendment prohibits any court from interfering with the doctrine and policy of the United Methodist Church regarding same-gender marriage or the regulation of the clergy in performing ceremonies that celebrate such unions. Thus the Supreme Court decision has no effect on The Book of Discipline and the prohibition on the celebration of such marriages by our clergy.
“United Methodist clergy and congregations are accountable to the teachings and church law outlined in the Discipline. Paragraph 341.6 of the 2012 Discipline states: ’Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers or in our churches.’ Paragraph 161.f of the United Methodist Social Principles affirms ’that all persons are people of sacred worth and that God’s grace is available to all while not condoning the practice of homosexuality.’
“This is a deeply divisive issue in the church, making it difficult to focus on our mission and ministry. Let us remember that God calls us to be in faithful ministry with all persons through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
So the Court’s decision has changed the cultural setting in which we do ministry, but it has not changed our United Methodist Church’s position. Nor has it changed the call upon our lives to live within the bonds of love even as we may disagree with one another. We are to continue welcoming into our church all persons who desire to try to live according to the teachings and example of our Lord Jesus Christ.
If you wish to read the full letter, I’ll be glad to give you a copy.