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From our Pastor
Rev. David Beam
Dear First UMC Family,
Since last Friday you likely have heard from national or social media “big news” regarding the United Methodist Church. I’ve been working with our pastoral staff and church leaders to gather the best information from resources we trust and want to make this information available to you. You can find reliable links at the end of this message. If you are interested, there is much more that I can share, but the letters and information in these links have been written by trustworthy sources, most of them by pastors I know personally and I know them to be faithful witnesses for Christ and leaders in our denomination.
More than anything I want you to know that I am (and our other pastors are) committed to being pastor to all and working with you to ensure that the vital ministry that God does in and through the people called First United Methodist Church Franklin, NC continues so that God is glorified and God’s people are blessed. We are walking through this together and we welcome the opportunity to talk with you about this information and how this is intersecting with you on your spiritual journey.
Last Friday’s news involves a PROPOSAL that is coming to General Conference (the international governing body of the UMC comprised of pastoral and lay leadership representatives) in May concerning the possible division into two denominations stemming from our continued wrestling with issues of human sexuality, specifically ordination and marriage of homosexual persons. In addition to this proposal entitled Protocol for Reconciliation and Grace through Separation there are other proposals being considered but this one is perceived to have greater weight because it was developed by a team that included representatives of differing perspectives. The process of developing this proposal was facilitated by a professional mediator and included months of negotiation and compromise. Given the representatives involved, it seems that many groups with radically different stances are supportive of this proposal. When the General Conference meets in May representatives may vote to implement this or a different proposal. I encourage you to read the proposal and the FAQ document about its development and implications.
The past few days I have been asked by many “Is the Church going to split” and “Will we have to vote”. My answer at this time is, “I simply don’t know.” These and other questions may well be decided at General Conference in May and I will keep you informed as to next steps. For now, we are not being asked to make a decision. What continues to be most important is focusing on who we are as the people called First UMC Franklin. We are all sinners saved by the grace of God….we welcome all persons as children of God….we love our Lord Jesus Christ…..we love each other….and we are all trying to faithfully serve, navigate and figure this out together!
With hope and confidence I ask you to pray with me in the coming days and I offer this prayer (with permission from Rev. Jan Brittain) as a place of beginning:
Good and Gracious God,
We praise you for your gift of the Church and the way you have worked for good through your Church for generations.
We thank you for the difference the Church has made in our lives, for the relationships, the support, the spiritual growth and the opportunities to worship and serve that we have experienced in and through the church.
We confess that we have not always been the Church you created us to be nor have we done all that you have called us to do. We confess that at times we have been wrong, we have focused on other things more than we have the cross, and we have failed to share the love of Jesus. Forgive us we pray.
We pray for our Church, for those who will represent us at General Conference, for those who lead at every level, including our own pastors. We pray that the power of the Holy Spirit will be at work in and through the General Conference so that your will might be done.
We pray for ourselves individually and as the people called First United Methodist Church Franklin. May we be faithful to you and to one another. May the power of the Holy Spirit be at work in and through us so that your will might be done.
In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.
A Prayer for Reconciliation
Where there is separation
there is pain.
And where there is pain
there is story.
And where there is story
there is understanding
and not listening.
May we — separated peoples, estranged strangers,
unfriended families, divided communities —
turn toward each other,
and turn toward our stories,
and listening, with argument and acceptance,
with challenge, change
Because if God is to be found,
God will be found
in the space
-Padraig O Tuama