General Conference Response
Pastor Mark Wilkins, 03/11/2019
It’s Pastor Mark, and I wanted to take a second to talk to you about something that you have probably already heard about, because there has been a lot of discussion about this in the last couple of weeks and even in the national press.
You see, two weeks ago, our denomination, the United Methodist Church, had an international meeting, called a General Conference, to specifically discuss the issues of same sex marriage within the church and whether or not we are going to ordain active members of the LGBTQ community to be Pastors. After a three day meeting the delegates decided that the United Methodist Church would continue its current stance of not allowing same sex marriages to be performed within the church, and would not ordain self-professed, active homosexuals to ministry.
Understandably, this decision has caused a lot of controversy, and, sadly, a great deal of pain for many in our denomination and our congregation. The truth is that here at First Methodist, we have really good people who feel and care deeply on both sides of this issue – we’re talking about people that I love, people that love Jesus and love others, but who simply disagree. I guess that’s to be expected- Jesus never told us we had to agree completely, but He did tell us to love one another.
I understand that this is one of those issues that has huge importance to many people on both sides. I have tried to listen really carefully as people have talked to me about their opinions and their feelings. More than that, I have seen the hurt on the faces of people I care about and there’s nothing I hate worse than anything that hurts the people I love.
But as important as this issue is, nothing is more important than the work that Christ has set us here to do. The work of loving and accepting absolutely everyone who walks through our doors, loving one another, and of making a real practical impact for Jesus in the lives of this community.
This debate has gone on for many years, and it probably will go on for many more. But in the meantime I’m asking you, no, I’m begging you, to keep doing what this church does best. Let’s keep feeding hungry kids and supporting the homeless, young moms who need a place to stay and all the folks in our community who so desperately need our help and they need the love of Christ. Let’s throw our arms and hearts around everyone who walks through our doors and let’s keep on loving each other even and especially if we don’t agree.
After church yesterday a friend took me aside and asked me if I’d say whose side I’m on in this debate. I want to be clear: I’m on the side of the family of First United Methodist Church, I’m on the side of the work that Jesus Christ has set us here to do. I believe in you, our congregation, and I believe in what Christ can and does do through us together. The stakes are just too high, the mission is too important for us to let even significant issues like this take away our focus from serving Jesus and His people. Let’s keep on loving each other, serving Christ with all our hearts, and let’s keep trying to be who Jesus Christ would have us be.