Friends, I was just looking at the millions of dollars the United Methodist Church’s general agencies have granted in 52 countries for COVID relief and recovery projects. It struck me that those numbers are us as a whole UM family, but that every local church like ours has also spent substantially on their COVID responses. That likely puts the number of United Methodist dollars working to manage and recover from SARS-COV-2 at closer to the hundreds of millions.
To be part of a big family is a big project. Just these last few weeks some hundreds or perhaps thousands of UM churches made it clear that they plan to undo the United Methodist denomination as we know it by leaving because of their unwillingness to wholly accept people from the LGBT communities. The successor to the UM family we are a part of will be perhaps a third smaller.
BUT WE MAY BE EVEN STRONGER THAN WE WERE BEFORE. To accept the departure of so many from our denomination has been hard for me. But to be associated with such judgmentalism has wounded us. We do need to move forward in the calling of the Holy Spirit to do our work.
A Jesus story in Luke 9:57 onward, Jesus is dealing with people saying they wanted to follow him, but then giving excuses for not going forward with him. He notes the time is now to make the decision. They each make very sweet sounding excuses, but he sees them for what they are: stalling, self-delusion, and deceptions.
So I plan on following Jesus in the ways of welcome, and I know you do, too. If we go through a painful loss of people from the UMC after General Conference 2022 or even before, let’s stay the course. We will always, ALWAYS be better for following the call of Jesus. Always.
You are loved. And you ARE love. I’m honored to be alongside you in this beautiful work.