However, it has been determined recently that this special General Conference will be postponed once again - it had already been postponed twice in the previous two years.
The issue, of course, is Covid. Because of pandemic-related travel restrictions and long delays for visas, from places like Africa and the Philippines, a large number of United Methodist delegates to this special General Conference will likely not be able to attend, so it was thought that a full representation of the church would not be present to decide this issue.
Therefore, it was decided to delay this Conference to the next regularly scheduled time for General Conference in 2024, two years from now.
Now, because of this delay, a theologically conservative group of pastors and laypeople have decided to break off from the United Methodist Church and form their own denomination called the Global Methodist Church. There may be some churches in Indiana that choose to follow this path.
However, Southport United Methodist Church, I believe, is a theologically more diverse congregation. I think our best course of action is to wait until 2024 for the General Conference to officially act, which may include a division of the United Methodist Church into two separate denominations, and then follow the process outlined at that time to determine which direction we might go. Every local congregation will be able to decide its own course of action and future.
Our society and politics, it seems, are pulling us further and further apart to extreme opposite positions. But I have always felt, and I sense that many of you feel, that there is a richness and a strength, in a diversity of ideas and opinions and understandings, even and maybe especially when it comes to matters of our faith.
Over the next two years, I think we ought to study as a congregation this issue of homosexuality in the Bible and in the church, to be more prepared for what the United Methodist Church decides in 2024, and what we as a local church might then decide as a result.
But I think what we really need to focus on, now and in the future and always, is the call of God upon our lives and upon our church to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, and to share grace and hope with everyone we can.
Grace and Hope to you,