“I See a New Church”
Response to the Call from Bishop Grant Hagiya
First United Methodist Church, Santa Monica – November 10, 2019
The congregation of the church has spent several weeks discerning an appropriate and true response to Bishop Hagiya’s request for how our church envisions its future as well as assessing its current wellbeing. Discussions have taken place, and been recorded, with many specific constituent groups of the church as well as at a general meeting that took place on October 20, 2019. There have been conversations among the leadership team of the church and many, many comments have been received individually.
Several themes have emerged from these conversations. It is impossible here to represent the thoughts and beliefs of every person who has participated in this effort, much less the entire congregation. What is outlined below can be viewed as a predominating sense. Should minority opinion exist, it is noted as well.
The general points are:
• Respondents overwhelmingly used positive words and phrases to describe the congregation as it is now: inclusive (by far the most often used word); friendly; intergenerational; loving; family; welcoming all; grace-filled; hope-filled; relevant; receptive to change; new life. Directly, when inclusion of LGBTQ people is discussed, it gets reiterated: ALL are welcome; ALL are to be included; ALL are deserving of the same rights and privileges. Many express a deep desire for the denomination to embrace this position and practice.
• There is genuine excitement about the initiatives of the church. Highlighted were childrens’ and youth programs, “Messy Church”, Sunday morning worship, and mission efforts.
• There is an eagerness for more mission trips and activities and, secondarily, study opportunities. Many requests were made for more intergenerational activities and fellowship as well as reaching out to members to assure their wellbeing.
• In line with the desire for mission efforts are suggestions for involvement in local community issues, especially in aid of homeless people.
• Uncertainty continues to exist about the future of the United Methodist denomination, yet there is a certain patience with the process as a new structure is worked through. It has been particularly appreciated that Rev. Farris has provided updates to the congregation on what the various denomination-wide conversations and proposals have been.
• Communication to the congregation is key so that the various opportunities for mission, fellowship and learning are promoted. It is also recognized and celebrated, that there is, and will always be, a spectrum of thought and belief within this particular church, and that everyone should receive acceptance, respect and love.
In sum, there is a sense that many good and great things are happening in the church and there is an eagerness to do more as we grow deeper into the fullness of God’s love for the whole creation.
The First UMC Lay Leadership team invites you to email comments or questions HERE
Rev. Farris Responds to UM General Conference:
I have just returned from the Special Called Session of The United Methodist General Conference in St. Louis. I am grateful for your expressions of love and concern in these recent days.
I know many of you have seen press accounts regarding the vote to continue a ban on gay clergy and gay marriage. Though tired, and heart-broken that we fell 44 votes short of achieving a change in our official policies, I want to remind you today that our First UMC Church Council unanimously approved the affirmation that “all ministries of the church are open to all God’s children” in 2012. We remain unwavering in this commitment. In this, we are supported by our Western Jurisdiction and all our WJ bishops, active and retired.
What DID change in St.Louis is that it became abundantly clear that our inclusive, welcoming church is exactly what the great majority of United Methodists want the church to be.
The actions of the General Conference are now under review by our Judicial Council, the “Supreme Court” of The UMC. As we await their ruling, WJ delegates are already sketching out options for possible models for a “New UMC.” We don’t yet know how it will be structured, but we will build on the values we cherish of love, justices embracing our diversity, and love for all as beloved children of God.
May God continue to inspire and lead us in a spirit of reconciling love and unquenchable hope. While the season of Lent is about to begin, we live even now as People of the Resurrection!
– Rev. Patricia Farris, Senior Minister (February 27, 2019)
- Read the Letter to the Editor of the Santa Monica Mirror “On United Methodist Church’s LGBTQ Exclusion”
- See the LA Times ad placed by the Cal-Pac Conference in response to the General Conference ruling.
- LA Times article: As United Methodist leaders tighten LGBTQ ban, churches struggle with path forward READ FULL ARTICLE HERE
- Bishop Hagiya: Reflections from the Western Jurisdiction Meetings
“…Of course, the huge reversal for me at General Conference was the death of the United Methodist Church that I love. We have always been the “big tent” where all people are welcome and affirmed. READ FULL ARTICLE HERE
- Statement by Reverend Mark M. Nakagawa West District Superintendent, regarding the General Conference:
Dear West District Clergy and Laity,
Last night I returned home from the special called General Conference in St. Louis, which was held to move the United Methodist Church forward on issues of LGBTQI inclusion.
During the week I joined with fellow West District brethren to support the One Church plan that was itself was supported by the United Methodist Council of Bishops.
READ FULL ARTICLE HERE
- Western Jurisdiction bishops offer a message of welcome As the 2019 General Conference comes to a close the episcopal leaders of the Western Jurisdiction offer a video message to the church saying, “We will continue to be a home for all God’s people centered around a table of reconciliation and transformation. We are not going anywhere.”
READ FULL ARTICLE HERE
- Message from United Methodist Insights:
After an emotional day of prayers, amendments and delaying tactics, General Conference 2019 approved the constitutionally unsound Traditional Plan after a last-ditch effort to revive the One Church Plan. The margin of the vote was the closest in the 44-year history of debate over homosexuality, 438 to 384, a difference of 55 to 46 percent. What the decision portends for the unity of the global United Methodist Church remains to be seen.
Since any legislation won’t become church law until Jan.1, 2020, the Council of Bishops has urged the denomination to remain focused on mission and ministry. The next General Conference in May 2020 in Minneapolis could reconsider the decisions of GC2019. Annual Conferences will elect their delegates to the 2020 assembly this year.
READ FULL ARTICLE
- Western Juridiction Update:
“We have long appreciated the richness of the global diversity of our United Methodist Church and have embraced opportunities to join with you all in the work of making disciples for the transformation of the world….READ FULL ARTICLE
- President Kuan Responds to UMC General Conference 2019
“After four days in St. Louis, MO, as one of 864 delegates to The United Methodist Church’s special Session of the General Conference, I am angry and heartbroken by the decision of the body not only to continue its injustices toward our LGBTQIA community but also to strengthen the prohibitions and punishments for those clergypersons who do not uphold the injustice.
READ FULL ARTICLE
- General Secretary responds to General Conference 2019
General Secretary Susan Henry-Crowe of the General Board of Church and Society of The United Methodist Church released the following statement after the 2019 General Conference of The United Methodist Church adopted the Traditionalist Plan: READ FULL ARTICLE