Dear Asbury Family,
As many of you know, there was a special General Conference of the United Methodist Church that convened in St. Louis to vote on various plans regarding the Church's stance on homosexuality. There has been a deep divide in our church over this issue and the denomination was looking for ways to move the church forward.
So what happened? After much passionate debate, the General Conference approved the Traditional Plan 53.28% to 46.72%. What this means is that the current language in our Book of Discipline regarding homosexuality remains unchanged. Therefore, UMC pastors are not allowed to officiate a wedding for same-sex couples, there can be no same-sex weddings in our churches, and no self-avowed practicing homosexual can become ordained clergy. The plan also calls for some stronger measures to hold bishops and denominational leaders accountable who refuse to follow the Book of Discipline.
There was also a plan of disaffiliation that was approved. This means a "gracious exit" would be provided for churches and/or clergy who desire to leave the United Methodist Church if they could not accept the outcome of General Conference.
It is also important to know the several pieces of the Traditional Plan legislation and the plan for disaffiliation were deemed unconstitutional prior to the General Conference vote. Measures were taken to perfect these two pieces of legislation, but they will be reviewed by the Judicial Council.
What does this mean for Asbury? We will continue to help ALL people grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ. Everyone (heterosexual and homosexual) is of sacred worth and created in the image of God and is welcome at Asbury. Everyone is welcome to participate in the life of the church and to continue on their spiritual journey. None of that has changed.
This conference, and the events leading up to it, have left many people hurt and feeling abandoned by the church. No matter where you are theologically on this issue, we need to pray for the people who have been wounded by hurtful things that have been said and done.
Grace and peace,
Pastor Eric Yeakel