Rally Together: All are welcome at Bay Methodist

Division. Unfortunately, this seems to be the word of the moment. We disagree on politics, we condemn those who think differently than us, we espouse our opinions on social media to perfect strangers, and we avoid our friends in fear of being judged or alienated.

At Bay United Methodist Church, we are struggling with division as well. This past February, a General Conference was held in St. Louis, Missouri, to determine a path forward regarding LGBTQ+ clergy and marriages within the Methodist Church. It was determined by delegates chosen to vote on behalf of global Methodist communities that self-professing LGBTQ+ ministerial candidates will not be ordained and same-sex marriages cannot be performed.

United Methodist Church communities have a written discipline. The view that a homosexual act is not congruent with our faith has been in our discipline since 1972. Many churches have not followed that point of discipline since it was written; instead, individual church communities have conducted their business as they deemed morally acceptable. The current vote will now hold anyone who chooses to marry a same-sex couple accountable to sanctions and homosexual clergy will not be permitted to practice.

“Open Hearts. Open Minds. Open Doors.” is the welcoming theme for the United Methodist faith. All are welcome to worship, learn and take communion. Some United Methodist Christians feel that the vote that took place seems to contradict this statement. Others feel strongly about their interpretation of scripture and accept the Traditional Plan, as the vote is called – they are for open doors, but feel LGBTQ+ actions are sinful and contradict Christian teaching.

As can be imagined, this has become a point of discussion within our own Bay UMC. We struggle, kindly debate and discuss. We have listened to our Northeast Ohio Methodist leadership discuss the ways decisions are made for our denomination and opportunities for change. Our youth are watching us, looking for guidance and offering their own wise interpretations of these views.

Our church community is loving and close and we want the larger community in which we exist to know we acknowledge our different views. Our hope is that the value we place on individual worth and our commitment to our Lord and Savior will be victorious over any type of controversy. We vow to honor the ultimate commandments to love the Lord God and love our neighbor. We will worship and praise our Lord alongside each other even when we disagree.

The International Methodist Community will address this divisive topic again in May 2020. It is unclear what path our denomination will follow, but we do not want to stop meeting together to praise God and share His love in the world.

We invite you to witness our loving community at work on Sunday, Sept. 8, for our Rally Day celebration at 10:00 a.m. Our theme this year is “Dream Small.” This theme, based on the parable of the mustard seed, is our call to our congregation to engage in small acts that combine to make a large impact on our world. We are all dearly loved chosen children of God. May we continue to act that way with open doors, open minds and open hearts.

Cindy Gulley

Bay United Methodist Church

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Volume 11, Issue 17, Posted 9:52 AM, 09.04.2019