Hello, Beautiful People!
Beginning this Saturday, February 23, 2019, through Tuesday, February 26, 2019, the General Conference of the United Methodist Church meets in St. Louis, MO. General Conference is made up of an equal number of clergy and lay delegates who vote on matters that eventually become church law, as recorded in the latest edition of The Book of Discipline. This is the only body that officially speaks for the whole United Methodist Church.
This month’s called session will focus on how the UMC will be structured going forward because faithful people within our denomination have different understandings of human sexuality. Will church law be enforced to a greater degree for those clergy whose conscience doesn’t allow them to follow The Discipline as it presently reads? Will the church divide itself along theological and social issues? Will no decision be made because delegates cannot reach a majority on any proposed plan? I am uncertain about the answers to these questions and about the outcome of this General Conference.
However, I am certain that Mary Esther United Methodist Church will be the same church after General Conference as it is today. In other words, the staff will come to work as usual. We will continue to worship and fellowship together. We will still offer meaningful ministries for children, youth, and adults. We will continue to reach out in service and compassion to those in need in our community and beyond. We will continue to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, just as this congregation has done since 1965.
In the coming days, news channels, Facebook users, and popular leaders will offer their ideas about what the denomination is going to look like in the future. I ask you to remember that our future is held in the hands of Jesus Christ alone; and repeatedly throughout the Gospels, Jesus said, “Do not be afraid.”
I will write more once General Conference has concluded. In the meantime, please pray for the 864 delegates from around the world who will gather to worship, pray, discuss, and vote. I also hope you will join us in praying for unity and God’s intervention in this process. The world needs the United Methodist Church and its extraordinary emphasis on grace, and we all need the body of Christ at Mary Esther United Methodist Church as we journey through this life together.
I am SO grateful for all you have done and will continue to do as an important part of this great congregation. If you have further questions, please let me know, I will do my best to answer them. Many of our questions can be answered at the Alabama-West Florida GC2019 page by clicking here.
Grace and Peace,
Rev. Dr. Sam Parkes