Dear FUMC Faith Family,
On this beautiful afternoon in Gainesville, FL, I’m reminded again of the truth found in Psalm 118, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!” To be honest, because I’m finally feeling better after a multi-day bout of intestinal plague, I’d be rejoicing even if it was pouring rain outside… however, I digress. 😉
As we continue our Lenten journey of repentance, reflection, and renewal, I want to share an update about some post-General Conference happenings since our last church-wide gathering on Sunday, March 24. I was very grateful for all who were able to attend as the Spirit was strong among us in that time and place. As I mentioned then, many conversations are happening about how United Methodists who support the ordination of LGBTQ+ people and the marriage of same-sex couples by UMC clergy, in our churches, can move forward with integrity and convicted humility.
In that spirit, last week a group of clergy persons in the Florida Conference crafted a statement of “Lament, Confession and Commitment,” and invited all clergy to read and sign, if its content resonated with their calling. It most certainly resonated with mine. Here’s a link to the document, for you to review as desired. I’ll be attending the meeting mentioned in the statement on Tuesday, May 7, at St. Luke’s UMC in Orlando. Please pray with me daily, for God’s wisdom and God’s peace which passes all understand will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus during this time and those that follow it.
Since the statement for clergy was made public on Sunday, many laity began asking if there was a similar statement available for them to sign. On Tuesday, a statement written by several lay leaders was shared via social media/email, and to date over 1,000 laypersons representing over 125 churches have added their names. Here's a link to the document, for you to review and sign, if its content resonates with your convictions.
Please know if you choose to sign, or not to sign this statement, you are loved by God, and I am sincerely thankful to be your pastor. God has been leading the people of First UMC Gainesville to be the hands and feet of Christ in this community and around the world for over 150 years… and God still has much for us to do, together.
With faith, hope and God’s leading love,
LITANY OF CONVICTION
To the decisions made at General Conference that demean and devalue our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters.
In the midst of this turmoil and pain, this church says to each of you,
Whether you are long-time Methodist, first-time Methodist or not a Methodist, we say to each of you,
Those of every age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, socio-economic condition, family structure and physical or mental ability, we say to each of you,
If you are just getting to know God, have known God your whole life or your relationship is complicated,
Do not leave this room today without hearing these words,
God’s doors are open to all.
In this place, First United Methodist Church of Gainesville, FL, may each of us proclaim with the words of our lips and the actions of our lives,
God’s doors are open to all!