Love through Worship
823 Merchant Street
Emporia, Kansas 66801
Co-Pastors Rev. Ron Harris & Rev. Karla Sheffy
Pastoral Response to the Decision at the Special General Conference
As we, your pastors, write this letter following the decision of the Special General Conference, we want you to know that we love you and all people. As your pastors, we are called to lead people to love God with all their hearts, mind and spirit and to love their neighbor as themselves. We also want you to know that we love the United Methodist Church. Our life has been in service to Christ through this denomination.
The denomination of the United Methodist Church had the Special General Conference Feb. 23-26. The decision was made to adopt the Traditionalist Plan to move forward. This plan retains most of the current language in the Book of Discipline and adds some consequences to those who violate the rules regarding marrying same-sex couples. It also continues to prohibit persons who identify as gay or lesbian in pastoral leadership.
Adopting the Traditionalist Plan has brought much grieving and heavy hearts upon many of our people across the United States who had hoped for a more inclusive plan. The United States delegation voted for a more inclusive plan by 2/3rds but was out voted by delegates from other parts of the world.
All of us have our opinions regarding the outcome. For us, it is difficult to put into words the pain and grief we suffer as we see our denomination grapple with the outcome of this General Conference.
Some of you may want to leave the denomination seeking a more inclusive one. Many want to stay and fight the good fight. Others are satisfied with the outcome. Wherever you stand, we know that there is brokenness among us. There is brokenness in our world. Jesus came to live with us humans full of the Spirit of God and was broken, bled and suffered until death. Jesus knows what it is like to be broken. In this human life, we live between two worlds. Brokenness and resurrection. As Christians, we see and feel the brokenness around us all the time. We are invited through Jesus’ brokenness and resurrection to offer life and grace. The grace of Christ we have received because we are broken. Through grace we find our purpose to offer Christ. Our local church still has a mission that will continue no matter the decision. The call of the Christian is to love and offer life. Our hope is that we, the church, offer that to all people without exclusion.
Presently, we don’t know how this decision will affect the larger picture. Time will tell. In the meantime, let us pray fervently, love all even in disagreement and advocate for the lost, the brokenhearted and the ones who mourn. Jesus is the life and resurrection. Jesus is with us. Let us be faithful to the work that is ours to do in the name of our Lord and Savior.
As your pastors, our doors are open for you to openly share with us what is on your hearts and minds. We offer consolation, prayer, and support. We are praying fervently for our communal relationship in Christ.
In the Grace and Mercy of Jesus,
Pastor Karla Sheffy
Pastor Ron Harris