REFLECTIONS FROM PASTOR AMY JO
News and More News
This month, I have a number of varied things to share with you, so keep reading to look for different topics. Summer is sometimes a time of quiet and rest in the church, but this year does not look like it!
About nine years ago, Saint Paul’s UMC did roof repairs to the brick façade on the front side of our roof. That same area is leaking again. Rather than make a
second set of repairs to this brick façade, we are making plans to remove it and replace it with a different type of product which will adhere better, providing us with a more permanent and reliable fix to this part of the roof. We are making plans for the repair right now. If you have a contractor to recommend, please contact a member of the trustees or the church office immediately so that we can move quickly to do the repair before there is more rain damage. Thank you for your recommendations regarding quality contractors.
Carol Egan, our lay member of the Minnesota Annual Conference has provided a full report on this year’s Annual Conference meeting, which was just held in Saint Cloud, which you will find further on in the Epistle. I wanted to highlight and comment on a couple of things. Did you see all of the purple scarves hanging in the sanctuary at Saint Paul’s UMC? Maybe you knit one of them! These scarves were part of the Lydia Project, which is part of our planned hospitality for General Conference 2020. Each delegate, bishop, and visitor to General Conference 2020 will receive a hand knit scarf in Vikings purple as a “welcome to Minnesota” gift. As an Annual Conference, we knit between 12,000 and 13,000 scarves together (a combined knitting time of approximately seven years!). These scarves were blessed at Annual Conference and are packed away ready for our international
General Conference 2020. Special thanks to Bettie Robinson and Carol Egan for knitting and for all of the friends of the late Shirley Wilson living at Southview Senior Living, who knit many scarves in Shirley’s memory.
A truck full of health kits, layette kits, and flood buckets was packed, received, and sent on to the UMCOR distribution center in Sager Brown, Louisiana. Special thanks to Deanna Sellers, who sent a big box of health kits that she and her family packed as a family mission project.
You have probably already seen news coverage of two statements that were passed by the Minnesota Annual Conference related to the actions of General Conference 2019. United Methodists in Minnesota hold different understandings regarding questions of homosexuality and the church, but there is a strong consensus toward being more inclusive of the GLBTQI community. Carol’s report gives more detail, but highlights are: One statement is simply a statement that our Annual Conference is opposed to the traditional plan passed by General Conference 2019. The other statement is a longer vision statement of how we hope to live our faith as Methodists in Minnesota. Most of the statement affirms some of the traditional and beloved parts of Methodist theology, beginning with the statement: “We envision a Methodism that is rooted in Jesus, grounded in Wesleyan theology, inclusive of all persons, and engaged in the work of justice and reconciliation.” It is a longer theological statement, but worth reading. A copy of the full statement can be found on the Annual Conference website (it is Item 100), and paper copies are also available in the church office. Two portions have gotten media attention. One portion is these two sentences: “We affirm the prayerful discernment of our Board of Ordained Ministry, who, along with our Conference leadership, have determined nine characteristics for evaluation of clergy. We support the Board of Ordained Ministry’s decision to evaluate candidates for ordination, licensing, and candidacy on the basis of these characteristics alone.” So, in Minnesota we are continuing with our traditional written and oral exams for ordination that have to do with theology, ministry, and spiritual health. We will not be adding new questions related to homosexuality. The other sentence receiving media attention is:: “We affirm each clergy person’s prayerful discernment in officiating wedding ceremonies for any prepared couple who comes to them.” Many of our clergy have publicly stated that they will perform marriages for any prepared couple who comes to them, whether the couple is heterosexual or homosexual. Some clergy have publicly said that they will not. In Minnesota, we affirm the sound judgment of our clergy in the matter of marriage.
I will continue to provide information on changes within our denomination as it
becomes available, and I am happy to answer your questions. Please remember
that no matter what is happening in our larger denomination, we are called to
love and serve God faithfully every day, right here in Mendota Heights. There
are people who need Christ’s light and life every day, and we are called to
shine that light.
Healthy Church Initiative
We are slowly and steadily moving forward in the implementation of our Healthy Church Initiative recommendations, finalizing the new leadership structure of Saint Paul’s UMC and setting goals for action on other recommendations. Thank you for all that you are doing in order to grow forward together.