A word from Reverend, Dr. Allison Byerley, Senior Pastor
As I write this, the special called General Conference to address the recommendations of the Commission on a Way Forward is coming to a close. I don't have the space here to go into the history or all the proposals. If you want more information, visit umc.org. The Commission issued its report to the Council of Bishops last summer and recommended the One Church Plan, which attempted to bring unity while admitting that we as a denomination were not of one mind on the subject of human sexuality. However, it was not a unanimous recommendation, and two other plans were included. One was a complicated connectional solution; the other was the Traditional Plan that strengthened the current language in our Book of Discipline, which limits the full participate of LGBTQ persons in the life of the church. The delegates of the General Conference did not follow the recommendation of the Commission or the bishops and adopted the Traditional Plan. The vote was close – just over 50%, which speaks to the division in our Church. Before the conference began, the bishops asked our Judicial Council to review the plans, and approximately 40% of the Traditional Plan was deemed to be unconstitutional. The actions of the General Conference did not correct all these problems. Ultimately, we are probably where we were before the General Conference began, though we know now how closely we are divided. We also know that between two-thirds and three-fourths of US delegates voted for the One Church Plan.
How does this decision affect us in Mariposa? In many ways, it has little impact. We will continue to do ministry as we always have. We will welcome all whom God invites. As we say before communion, this table does not belong to us or the Methodist Church; it is God's table. However, that being said, the results of the General Conference are already making headlines and we will have to show our community that our doors, our hearts, and our minds remain open.
More importantly, we met in an all-church meeting on February 24th after worship to answer questions and concerns about the financial situation described in the letter that accompanied your annual giving statement. There was robust discussion and outside-the-box thinking. In the end we stated that the answer lies within our church and our members. If you are able to contribute more financially, we thank you. If you cannot, there are other ways to help strengthen our church, and we hope that you will be involved. This year will be a pivotal one.
I was especially heartened because the message I heard loud and clear is that Mariposa UMC makes a difference. It makes a difference in our members' lives and in our community. We would be so much poorer without the witness of Mariposa United Methodist Church. I believe that God is with us and is providing. Thank you for your faithfulness.