Ah, what gorgeous day today! And boy there’s a lot of activity around the church in preparation for the fair on Saturday! It’s great to see so many people coming and going and the joy of sifting through all the books and treasures. I just want to offer a big thank you to everyone for all your faithful efforts!!
I thought I’d take a moment this month to report to you regarding one topic at our 2018 New England Annual Conference. The theme this year was “Vital Conversations – Culture.” And the guiding Scripture verse was Ephesians 4:11-13, which includes:
…until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.
We’ve been talking about the underlying theme of this Scripture passage in worship over the past couple of weeks. We’ve said that Wesleyan Methodists hold that “maturing in Christ” is the goal of salvation. In this, all people and the earth itself can find lasting joy and peace – divine fullness of life.
A challenge to the peace and unity of The United Methodist Church today revolves around discerning how to faithfully be The Church that exhibits the heart and mind of Christ relative to human sexuality, specifically homosexuality. This subject is at the heart of our denomination’s current need for vital conversations (though gender equality, racial equality, appropriate gun and immigration laws, and other topics are also very important).
The concern of many is that The United Methodist Church is not currently exhibiting the heart of Christ in our denomination’s rules regarding sexuality. There will be a special session of General Conference in 2019 to vote on potential changes to these principles and rules.
I am in prayer and planning for some special small group forums on this subject at MUMC. We need to be in holy conversation that
we might grow in our efforts to be the heart of Christ on this in Moultonborough. I hope to start hosting these small group conversations later this summer.
Bishop Devadhar shared a very impassioned episcopal message on Thursday evening. (You can find it here: http://neumcemail.brtapp.com/files/fileshare/ 2018+ac/2018+episcopal+address+6-6-18.pdf
.) He said that the “elephant in the room is not human sexuality or homosexuality.” He said that the elephant in the room is how to be in ministry together until we finally find unity in Christ. His point was that our real challenge is to remain in ministry around the tough issues until we find unity and peace. It is only by coming together with the heart of Christ that we will come to God’s answers and do the will of God.
The Bishop recommended a book: The Anatomy of Peace – resolving the heart of conflict, by The Arbinger Institute. I read this book over the past two weeks. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read! How to have a heart of peace rather than a warring heart – that’s the key to every tough challenge of life!
I highly recommend this book and ask everyone to read it. I’d plan to hold some small group discussions on this book’s main points in preparation for our vital conversations regarding human sexuality and the church.
Please go to Amazon and order this book. It’s only $9.15 as an eBook or $10.08 in paperback. Read it and watch for my call to gather to discuss it.
Christ is alive! There is reason for hope and joy! I walked away from 2018 New England Annual Conference revitalized and with a much more peaceful heart. We certainly have work to do in our way forward as the body of Christ. Yet, I look forward to this continued work, because it’s the work of ministry, the work of the people of God, especially the people called Methodist…
Peace be with you and with our world,