Our Church and the Denomination // M-Note 8.16.2019

Dear Gathering,

Over the last several months, The Gathering’s board has been discussing how the recent decisions of the larger denomination are impacting our church. Many of you are interested in this, and I wanted to give you an update.

We clearly reject the restrictive and punitive teachings of the greater church with regards to LGBTQ people, do not support the ban on same-sex weddings, and want to be connected to other churches that fully welcome LGBTQ people into the full life of the church. The decisions of the larger denomination are making it harder for us to pursue our mission. We can no longer be part of the United Methodist Church if the position on ministry with LGBTQ people does not change. While our board has not yet determined a definitive direction, this is what we have discussed:

  1. The next General Conference will be held in May of 2020. As of now, several plans will be considered that either dissolve the current denomination and replace it with two or more new denominations, or offer churches that disagree with the direction of the denomination an opportunity to leave under amicable terms to start a new expression of Methodism. All such legislation must be completed and submitted by mid-September of this year.

  2. In a month, we will learn about the options available to our church and will discuss which option is best for us to pursue and work towards.

  3. We will make a decision about our relationship to the current (or any other) denomination after General Conference next May. This is not stalling, but rather will allow us clarity about the best direction for our church. We believe there is a strong possibility for our church to stay connected to a larger network of like-minded churches, something our board prefers over being independent. We will not remain connected to a denomination that prohibits ministry with LGBTQ people past next May.

  4. During the next year, we will continue to welcome LGBTQ people into the full life of our church. This will not change. 

I will update our congregation about changes as they develop (and they are actively developing each week). If you have any questions or concerns, please email me.

Being inclusive is one of our church’s many strengths. Ministry at The Gathering is thriving and the best is yet to come for our church. Thank you for all the ways you are contributing to our vitality. Your example is making a difference not only here, but for many churches around the country.