Hey, how are you?
Reba and I are healthy and doing well during this time of sheltering in place. We had a number of opportunities to prepare for an extended period of time to shelter in place. We have been keeping a social distance which has kept us healthy and in good spirits. I pray that you are in a good place also.
During this past two weeks of isolation I have been spending a number of hours each day learning to do church differently. Our conference office is providing for us as clergy webinars that have given us ideas and practices to help us to continue our calling as pastors in many innovative and new ways. On Sunday, March 24th I was blessed to be able to share the web and radio broadcast from the Mears United Methodist Church with Pastor Anne Riegler. On Monday, March 25th the guidelines changed and we could no longer both gather at the Mears United Methodist Church to lead worship together. Anne will be leading worship on Sunday, March 29th from the Mears United Methodist Church sanctuary along with one technician to assist her. I will be leading worship on Palm Sunday, April 5th. Anne and I will be working together to develop an Easter Sunday worship experience for April 12th that Anne will be leading.
I will continue to use the phone and social media as well as postal mail as we continue to stay in contact with each other. I encourage you to contact me to share information, needs and concerns using the medium that you feel most comfortable with. I also encourage you to stay in contact with each other, your friends and family of Claybanks United Methodist Church. We need to communicate and be in relationship with each other as we work to support each other during this very unusual time that we are living in. By doing so we will get through the struggles together looking forward to the day when we can assemble to worship in our beautiful Claybanks United Methodist Church building. When that day arrives, we are planning some special activities to celebrate our connectional presence together.
John Wesley the founder of Methodism embrace three social principles that I find not only comforting but give me direction especially during this time. These social principles can be summed up by saying “Do no harm, do good and stay in love with God. First, “To do no harm” by sheltering in place we will not contact the corona virus nor open paths for its spread to others. Secondly, by “Doing good” we support those who are giving of their time, gifts, skills resources, health, and even possibly their own life so that we can remain protected from this deadly virus. Thirdly, by “Staying in love with God” means we take Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and trust in him to provide for our needs as we are given the opportunity to feed our faith through prayer, devotional time and by studying Scripture.
I look forward with hope and joy to the day when we can gather together and shout in unison, “Alleluia and praise to the Lord”!
Pastor Ponderings March 2020
What is next for our United Methodist Church? Back in January, I preached a message concerning the state of the United Methodist Church and possibly where we were going. At that time a nine page document called “Protocol for Reconciliation And Grace Through Separation” had just been announced and was agreed upon by a coalition of global connected and advocacy groups within the United Methodist Church. This protocol was brought forward as a way to end or at least greatly reduce the denominations decades’ long struggle over how accepting we are to be of homosexuality. In March 2019 at the special called General Conference in St. Louis it became clear that a line in the sand had turned into a canyon and the impasse was such that we have come to realize that we just cannot stay this way any longer so the protocol was brought forward.
Since the protocol was released, it has been written up in a form that the United Methodist Judicial Council has approved and it now clarifies many of the questions brought forward since its release. In order for it to be brought to the 2020 General Conference to be held in May of this year in Minneapolis-St. Paul this proposal must be brought by an Annual Conference as approved legislation to be placed in front of the voting members of General Conference. Because the date to submit ratified legislation from Annual Conferences for General Conference was passed by last fall and no Annual Conference is meeting until after the General Conference the Michigan Annual Conference and the Sierra Leon Annual Conference have been selected to bring this protocol in front of the General Conference in May. These two conferences were selected with respect to the leadership that each conference Bishop has taken not only within their conference but in the greater United Methodist Church. A special session of the Michigan Annual Conference has been called to meet on Saturday, March 7th in the Goodrich Chapel on the campus of Adrian College with the sole purpose of this session to consider whether the Michigan Conference will approve and send the legislation based on the “Protocol for Reconciliation And Grace Through Separation” to the General Conference 2020 so that it might be considered by the delegates at the General Conference. To receive this approved legislation, the General Conference has said they will take it up as the first piece of legislative business. Only an approved piece of legislation from an Annual Conference can be brought forth to General Conference so one or both of the Annual Conferences must approve the proposed legislation.
Representing Claybanks United Methodist Church at the March 7th Special Session Annul Conference will be Edie Bogart who has been our Claybanks representative to Annual Conference for a number of years. Reba Peterson who is currently an equalization representative will also be attending. Myself, as clergy, will be attending and all three of us have been given by our positions voice and vote to the proposal. I would ask that you keep Edie, Reba and myself in prayers as we continue to research and try to understand all the complexities of this proposal. We understand what is about to take place is the most significant possible change in the life of our church since 1968 when the United Brethren Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church became the United Methodist Church that we have come to love and received love through in so many different ways.
Please keep our Methodist Church and its leaders in your prayers.