Some of the best conversations are when we share meals together. There is something about sitting around a table and sharing food with other people that tends to engage individuals and create space for everyone to share their thoughts. Grace seems to abound at the table and we seem to share our ideas and thoughts with the ability to hear others. Maybe it has to do with the rules of etiquette and hospitality.
Beginning on February 10, followed by March 10 and April 7, Pioneer Church will gather after worship to share a potluck meal. Over the course of three sessions, Pastors Juli and Liv, along with members of the church council, will facilitate difficult conversations around the issue of human sexuality. We will talk about church history, that of the larger United Methodist Church and our own history at Pioneer concerning human sexuality. We will talk about science, about Scripture, about real people. We will attempt to apply John Wesley’s quadrilateral of scriptural authority, experience, tradition, and reason as these pertain to human sexuality and the church.
Why should we care about human sexuality? And particularly, why should we have to address this topic in church of all places? If you care about this church and the people here, you should care about the issue of human sexuality. If you care about the future of the greater Methodist church, you will want to learn about legislation being considered at the Special Session of General Conference, February 23-26, 2019. And, we are expecting you care about what all this could mean for your faith journey.
There are dozens of pieces of legislation to be considered in St. Louis during GC 2019. All of the proposals being put forward boil down to two basic schools of thought. First, the Traditional Plan, and variations on that theme, would seek to enforce existing rules in the Book of Discipline concerning ordination of gays, lesbians, transgender, or queer candidates. The language “…homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching” would remain and clergy, conferences and bishops would be penalized or rebuked for not following the policies.
On the other hand, there are proposals that seek a middle way. Many of these ideas remove the “offensive language” from the Book of Discipline and allow individual conferences to decide about ordination and local churches whether they would accept a gay or lesbian pastor and same sex weddings. There are also proposals that would allow a clergy person to follow their own conscience about the issues. The plan endorsed by the majority of bishops as well as the Committee on the Way Forward is called the One Church Plan and has such provisions for “agreeing to disagree.”
We encourage you to come and learn, share your opinions, be open to other ideas, and decide where you stand. These table talks are not designed to change your mind as much as for you to understand the issues and what they might mean for our congregation. We hope you will join us. And, bring some food to share at the table of grace.