The United Methodist Church is at a crossroads concerning the issue of human sexuality. In April of this year, the Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church called for a Special Session of General Conference* to take place in February of 2019. This General Conference “will be ‘limited to receiving and acting on a report from the Council of Bishops based on the recommendations of the Commission on a Way Forward.’ The 32-member Commission was appointed by the Council of Bishops to assist the bishops in their charge to lead the church forward amid the impasse related to homosexuality. The Commission’s task includes examining paragraphs in The Book of Discipline concerning human sexuality and exploring options to strengthen the unity of the church.”**
The legislation being put before General Conference delegates is the “One Church Plan”*** which seeks to keep the United Methodist Church in tact by allowing conferences and churches to decide how to handle the matter of homosexuality for themselves.
Two other plans will be considered – the Traditionalist Plan (keep the Book of Discipline wording the same with stronger enforcement) and the Connectional-Conference Plan (a mixture of several different solutions aimed at keeping the denomination intact).
To hear about the work of the Commission on A Way Forward from the commission members themselves, a series of videos have been released and shared here.
Only the Lord knows what February holds for the United Methodist Church. If the One Church Plan is approved, we will have a decision to make concerning our stance on homosexuality. At the town hall meeting, we are not voting or deciding anything, rather it is an opportunity to know more about the issue at hand. Please come with a humble and discerning heart.
We are incredibly blessed with our facility. Since 1863 Bethel has been a mainstay of Mascoutah Main Street. Classic on the outside and reverently beautiful on the inside, our spiritual foremothers and forefathers built a wonderful facility. In the 1920’s the congregation remodeled and expanded the facility with the addition of the basement to meet the growing needs of the ministry. In the 1960’s they expanded the facility again with the addition of the education wing to accommodate the thriving Sunday school programs. At each step, serious thought and consideration were put into the decision to fit the facility to the needs of the ministry.
We are in a similar situation as our spiritual foremothers and forefathers. Our facility is wonderful, yet there are some significant challenges. Perhaps the easiest to identify is our lack of handicap accessibility to various parts of the building. Navigating Bethel in a wheelchair is impossible, and getting around with aging knees or an infant seat is a very real struggle. These challenges need to be addressed so we can be in ministry to all, not just those who are able bodied. The town hall meeting will give us opportunity to identify and discuss potential solutions.
When you come to the town hall meeting, have in mind one way our building is helpful to the ministry and one way our building could be improved to be more helpful to the ministry. Again, please come with a humble and discerning heart.
Please put September 9 Bethel Town Hall Meeting in your calendar now. Thank you!
Andy Anthony, Senior Pastor
*For more information on what General Conference is and why it is important go here: http://www.umc.org/who-we-are/general-conference. For the press release calling for the special session go here: http://www.umc.org/who-we-are/umc-bishops-call-special-session-of-general-conference-for-2019
**For the full Book of Discipline Statements regarding Homosexuality go here: http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/homosexuality-full-book-of-discipline-statements
***For more information on the One Church Plan go here: http://www.umc.org/news-and-media/bishops-propose-plan-for-way-forward