Many of you have heard that delegates from the United Methodist Church from around the world gathered in special session to discuss how to live in community with our LGBTQIA+ brothers and sisters. Could we find it in our polity to ordain and marry persons different than the majority of folks within our church? After three days of conferencing delegates passed what is known as the ‘Traditional Plan.’ (a vote of 53% – 438 votes for to 47% – 384 against).
According to our 7 Rivers District Superintendent, Mary Huycke, who is also a Pacific Northwest Conference clergy delegate, “This plan was largely declared unconstitutional by the Church’s Judicial Council, yet it passed anyway. This plan not only retains the prohibitive and restrictive language against the LBGTQIA community, found in our Book of Discipline, it strengthens punitive measures against clergy who violate these prohibitions and forbids the ordination of LBGTQIA Clergy. While approximately 2/3 of the United States delegates voted against this plan, we are a worldwide church with near 43% of the voting delegates coming from outside the United States. It is their church too.”
So what does this decision mean for United Methodists in Walla Walla? Many of us in the West hoped the One Church Plan would have passed. This plan would have allowed for Annual Conferences, local churches and pastors to live within their contexts and their conscience.
I do know that the majority of UMC churches within our Western Jurisdiction [Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Nevada, California, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana] have lived for many years as a big tent, as one church, able to live within the tension of diversity of theology and lifestyles. We have lived well with traditionalists, moderates, and progressives. I do not see that changing anytime soon. Besides, we have ministry to do…we have people to house, we have folks to feed, we have schools to volunteer in, we have immigrants to welcome, and we have hurting folks to walk with. That’s the work we need to be about and that is who John Wesley, our founder called us to be.
We as a general church continue to categorize and hurt individuals. We continue to not live by the words of Jesus found in Matthew 22: 37-39. He replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as yourself.” Those of us who are privileged continue to think we have all the answers…and we don’t. As a white, heterosexual woman, I know I am privileged and I am part of the system that continually inflicts pain.… I know it and I apologize to all those who are hurting.
Walla Walla, hear this. As the pastor of Pioneer United Methodist Church you will not hear words of condemnation or exclusion from our pulpit. You may hear the tough words of how difficult it is to for all of us to follow this carpenter from Nazareth, but you will not hear words of exclusion. Pioneer United Methodist Church is not going anywhere. We will stand with the oppressed, the marginalized and the hurting. We will continue to welcome all with love. We will continue our mission and ministry of being a Church on the Move…with God, with Justice and with Love.
Rev Juli Reinholz is the Pastor at Pioneer United Methodist Church. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org