Nov 17, 2019 a Special Charge Conference
On Sunday Nov 17, 2019 a Special Charge Conference will be held after the 10:30 service and led by our District Superintendent, Rev. Taesung Kang.
The motion we will present is:
"That Main Street United Methodist Church become a Reconciling Congregation by:
- embracing and enacting our Welcoming Statement
- joining the Reconciling Ministries Network
- becoming visibly welcoming to the LGBTQ+ community
- being intentional, discerning and passionate in our welcoming of all people."
There will be opportunities on 11/3 and 11/10 after each service for questions and discussion. We hope all members of MSUMC will make it a point to be at the Special Charge Conference and vote their conscience. Whatever your feelings on the matter, we want your voice to be heard.
Why is this needed?
Main Street United Methodist Church celebrates that all persons are created in God’s image and are of sacred worth. We are a faith community that welcomes persons without regard to age, race, culture, sexual orientation, gender identity, family configuration, religious background, economic status, or developmental and physical ability. We welcome all who seek to love God and neighbor.
This is our church's Welcoming Statement. This is who we are, who we are called to be. This is reflective of what our New England Conference is. Unfortunately, because of last February's General Conference, this is not necessarily how we are seen by the outside world.
In order to correct any possible misconception of who we are as a Christian community of faith and practice, this year we have asked ourselves whether becoming a Reconciling Congregation makes sense for us. A committee was created to investigate and inform. A survey was done, guest speakers were invited, information was disseminated, opportunities were made to ask questions, and classes were held.
What Does Becoming Reconciling Mean?
By the Reconciling Congregations Committee
By now you’ve probably heard that MSUMC is looking to become a Reconciling congregation. But what does that mean? The most important part of the process is becoming more intentional and visible in welcoming members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) community. The General Conference vote earlier this year singled them out specifically as being unwelcome in ministry. As such, we feel it’s our duty as Christians to go out of our way to show them that they are in fact welcome in our congregation, and that we celebrate their gifts just as we celebrate those of non-LGBTQ individuals.
But how is that different from what we do now? To answer that, put yourself in the shoes of an LGBTQ person walking down the street in front of our church. You’ve never been in the church before but may have seen our congregants at various community events. You’ve also heard about the General Conference vote, as it made national news. You see that we’re a Methodist church, recall what you heard about the vote, and keep on walking. But let’s say you see a banner or a sign in the window stating that we’re a Reconciling congregation. This piques your interest, so you look up the church and see our Reconciling statement on our website or Facebook page. Even if you don’t come in that day, you know this is a place where you will be welcomed should you ever come here. While this is an entirely hypothetical situation, today it’s more likely the story would end with the LGBTQ person walking right on by. Since the vote, we’ve done nothing to show these fellow children of God that they are welcome and loved here just as anyone else is.
So how would we do this should the vote to become Reconciling pass? While it’s difficult to say, as any actions would be up to individual committees, the important thing is that we as a congregation would be intentional about welcoming LGBTQ individuals.
We understand there’s been some confusion about what becoming Reconciling entails, so we’d also like to clear up some misconceptions. Most importantly, there’s no financial obligation to this. While the Reconciling Ministries Network does ask for a donation from participating congregations, there are no penalties for not giving anything. Additionally, welcoming LGBTQ individuals doesn’t mean everyone else won’t be welcome here; all will still be welcome. It also doesn’t mean Pastor Rich will start performing same-sex weddings; this is still banned according to the Book of Discipline. While becoming Reconciling is in part stating our opposition to the General Conference vote, it won’t damage our standing within the New England Conference at all. In fact, the Conference itself became Reconciling several years ago!
MSUMC RECONCILING COMMITTEE CONGREGATIONAL SURVEY
This past spring, in response to February's Special General Conference of the United Methodist Church, MSUMC created the Reconciling Committee to determine if we want to become a Reconciling Church that openly and intentionally welcomes people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. To that end, from 6/16 to 7/14, we conducted an in-church survey. Here are the results. (If you have any questions please feel free to contact any committee member.)