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May Message from Rev. Coplin & Newsletter

Church,

I pray these words find you well! While gathering these thoughts, I was reminded of one of Charles Wesley’s greatest hymns, “And Are We Yet Alive.” The lyrics proclaim, “And are we yet alive, and see each other’s face? Glory and thanks to Jesus give for his almighty grace!” These words strike me a bit differently this week, knowing that though we have endured a contentious few months, we are still here, still alive, and still eager to worship, grow, and give alongside one another. This is only by the grace of Jesus Christ. He has seen our church this far and will remain forever faithful, come what may.

I am grateful for your patience and participation during our church vote on April 16. Considering the turnout, it is clear that this continues to be an important issue for our time as the Methodist Church in Many. If you were engaged with the process leading up to the vote, then you likely know that our name, our doctrine, and our language regarding human sexuality remain unchanged.

The UMC’s longtime position continues to state,”the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching” (note that this language distinguishes between orientation and practice). The UMC is committed to be in ministry with all people and affirms that all people are of sacred worth, no matter their orientation. However, sexual relations continue to be affirmed only within monogamous, heterosexual marriage. Furthermore, pastors may not be “self-avowed, practicing homosexuals” and may not conduct ceremonies that celebrate same-sex weddings or unions. I believe we can expect some changes to this language at General Conference in 2024, but to what extent remains to be seen.

Though several have expressed relief that we will remain affiliated with the UMC, I know that this was a particularly difficult vote to cast for many. I also recognize that the outcome was not what several of our members were hoping for. Feelings of disappointment or uncertainty are sure to be expected. It took months of prayer, discernment, and discussion to arrive to this decision and we should expect that it will take some time to heal. I pray daily that we may hold to our convictions while extending grace and willingness to understand to those who disagree.

Should the UMC’s stance on this issue change significantly in 2024, we will then decide whether to revisit the issue. In the meantime, I believe there are more pressing matters here at home to address, including decreased attendance and giving, aging facilities and a (gracefully) aging congregation.

These pose much greater challenges to our continued mission. Yet, if we remain committed to our faith and to each other during this critical time, I am confident that we will find the way forward together.

God’s undeniable grace and peace in the coming month,

/s/
Brian

View Full Monthly Newsletter, May 2023

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