“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give peace to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” – John 14:27
This weekend, some 900 members of the United Methodist Church are meeting in St. Louis, MO as delegates to a special General Conference of the UMC from February 23-26, 2019. Many others will attend as observers of the Conference. The purpose of this meeting will be to receive and act on a report from the Commission on a Way Forward, authorized to examine paragraphs of The Book of Discipline concerning human sexuality and to explore options to strengthen church unity.*
Throughout the last few months, several of you have approached the clergy, staff, and other leaders at PVUMC, expressing some anxiety over what the outcome of this General Conference will be. Many of you are worried that a path will be chosen that is contrary to your own theological convictions. Others are concerned for the future of our denomination as a whole, and what any decision could possibly mean for our local congregation.
I will admit: I carry some of those same worries within my own heart. These are uncertain times, and it can be easy to become discouraged at the division and conflict we see within our United Methodist Church.
I want to reassure you of this, however: come February 27, 2019, Paradise Valley United Methodist Church will continue to be God’s Love in Action, regardless of the outcome of the General Conference this weekend. Our youth group will continue to journey with our young people throughout their most formative years. Our knitting ministry will continue to create beautiful things for those are in need of comfort and support. Our worship teams will continue to create holy spaces for us to connect with God. All of the incredibly powerful things our church does today will continue to be done in the weeks, months, and years to come.
As our denomination moves forward, let us each put away the spirit of fear that threatens to grow within our hearts and instead choose to embrace the mission that God has called us towards: to make disciples of all people, sharing the generous love of Jesus with all we meet. We will deal with the ramifications of whatever decision is made this weekend in due time. Meanwhile, may the peace of God permeate our souls, giving us the confidence to act in bold ways to further the kingdom of heaven, here and now.
We will be having a special time of prayer for General Conference this Sunday during our regularly scheduled worship services. I want to encourage you to join us as we pray for the people who will be engaged in the difficult process of finding a way forward for the UMC.
May the holy grace of God be with us, now and forevermore.
See you Sunday,
Office: 602-840-8360 Ext 130
*For more information on the General Conference, visit: http://www.umc.org/topics/general-conference-2019-special-session
“We invite you to join us on a shared journey of life and faith, open to all, regardless of age, ability, economics, color, race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, politics, theology or anything else that might separate us from each other. Whoever you are and wherever you may be on your spiritual journey, you’re invited to walk with Christ in community with all of God’s children, and embrace the endless possibilities of God’s unconditional love.”