Pastor’s Page

March  2019


Healthy Church Initiative (HCI)
Growing Forward Together

The Healthy Church Initiative is an intentional, strategic process that helps already healthy churches to grow, become more vibrant, and reach out with a stronger expression of Christ’s love. On February 10, Saint Paul’s United Methodist Church voted (by 97%) to move forward with implementation of the Five Recommendations
of the Healthy Church Initiative consulting team. The five recommendations are designed to help Saint Paul’s UMC to grow forward together. A coach has been assigned to assist our congregation in this process, and our next step will be to meet with our coach to develop a timeline for the order of completing the recommendations, as well as our benchmarks (incremental goals on our way to the main goals.)

Thank you to all of our Healthy Church Initiative Team at Saint Paul’s, and to all who participated in the self-study research, focus groups, training sessions, and leadership interviews! Your efforts are moving us forward together toward God’s dream for our congregation and community.  Watch for news as we begin to work on each of the five recommendations during the coming months.


General Conference 2019

As we print this newsletter, the General Conference of the United Methodist Church has just concluded a special session at St. Louis, Missouri. The special session was called in order to respond to the Commission on the Way Forward’s recommendations for our denomination regarding human sexuality and homosexuality. For those who are not familiar with the governance processes of the United Methodist Church, the General Conference is the worldwide meeting of approximately 1,000 delegates (half of the delegates are clergy and half laypersons) who create policy for the United Methodist Church. The delegates are elected by their home areas, based on the number of United Methodists in the geographical area. Minnesota has four delegates, as well as a number of alternates. At this time, approximately 60% of the total delegates come from the United States, and the meeting is simultaneously translated into seven different languages. I traveled to the meeting as an alternate, but was not needed to serve.

By the time you read this, many of you will have read the news reports regarding the outcomes of General Conference, and many of you may have questions, concerns, and/or emotional responses to the General Conference. For many longtime United Methodists, there can be fear, anxiety, anger, or sadness related to questions about
the unity of the denomination. For GLBTQA persons, there can be pain, fear, anger, or sadness regarding the decision of the UMC to retain language in opposition to homosexuality. In the midst of this, I remind you that God loves us and vision for a future with hope for all of us. As your pastor, I am available to listen with care to how you are feeling in the midst of this and answer as many of your questions as I can. I will continue to welcome all people to Saint Paul’s United Methodist Church, and I invite you to join me in a welcoming spirit of hospitality. Our warm welcoming spirit is one of the strengths of Saint Paul’s UMC!

The doctrine of the United Methodist Church (our core beliefs about God) continues as it has been and is not open for change by the General Conference. However, issues of organizational policy and social principles may be changed by the decisions of the General Conference. It was the decision of the specially called General Conference to adopt the Traditional Plan in reference to denominational policy regarding human
sexuality. This plan retains the UMC’s position in opposition to homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and the ordination of self-avowed, practicing homosexual persons. The traditional plan also adds increased penalties for the violation of those rules. My summary provides simply a general idea about the plan. We will not know the exact details for quite some time, as the Judicial Council needs to review it again for questions of constitutionality. When a draft version of the legislation was reviewed by the Judicial Council, approximately half of the petitions were ruled unconstitutional and therefore unable to be implemented.

So, what will we do as we wait? Today, we take a deep breath and trust in God. We trust in God to care for us. We trust in God to provide wisdom for us. We trust in God to lead us forward to a future with hope.  What else do we do as we wait? We welcome, share, and serve.

Saint Paul’s UMC is a welcoming community sharing Christ’s love in service through relationships.  Welcome. Share. Serve.

We welcome new people into our community and congregation, baptizing new members. We share Christ’s love with a world that needs it. We serve all people with the same love that Christ pours out to us. No matter what may be changing in the world around us or the structure of the Church, God’s love for us does not change, and the great need of the world to receive Christ’s love remains before us as mission. May God’s Spirit give us the strength to continue to respond faithfully to a world in need.

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