Aug 2019 – Update on The Way Forward Discussion Group
At the end of March The Way Forward discussion group began meeting for the purpose of discerning our responses and St. Matthew’s response to the decision made at General Conference 2019 to adopt the Traditional Plan. Sixty-six people have attended at least one meeting. The group has been keeping up to date on activities across the UMC and the Virginia Annual Conference. Several attended the meeting with the VA Conference Bishop in April and the Lay Leaders attended the UMCNext update at Fairlington UMC. We invited Mark Elder of Fairlington UMC to speak with the group about the Reconciling movement. The group requested a more inclusive sign in front of the church and proposed and organized the Facilitated Informational Meeting in June and the short survey for those who attended the meeting. The group took a break in meeting during August, but continued to stay in touch via email. A small group is working on a church-wide survey to present to Church Council for consideration.
As Annual Conferences have been meeting around this country to elect their delegates to the 2020 General Conference, it has become clear that a considerable majority of conferences are strongly opposed to the Traditional Plan; most conferences elected delegates who are in favor of working to frame a plan that is more inclusive and/or which completely eliminates exclusive language in the Book of Discipline. Our group is closely following these developments as they emerge in various forums that are meeting this summer or fall. Whatever plan (plans) emerge, the direction of conversations among leaders of the UMC suggest that individual local churches will need to engage in holy conferencing in order to discern what kind of plan for the church best allows that congregation to express their faith.
An overwhelming number of attendees of our discernment group believe that the UMC and St. Matthew’s should be a fully inclusive church for all of God’s children including those that identify as LGBTQ+. There are differing opinions on how to get there and how fast it should happen, but there is complete agreement on the goal. The group also agrees that the St. Matthew’s is a wonderful church family and that it is healthy and important for us to have diversity of outlooks on this subject as well as to remain close to one another in our differences. The group is prayerfully awaiting the outcome of the May 2020 General Conference.
Starting in September the group will resume meeting during the Sunday School time in room 303. We will complete the process of becoming a Reconciling Covenant Group. All are welcome to join the group even if attending another Sunday School class. We will be using Reckless Love as our study guide and also will be writing a welcoming statement. We believe that the class will continue to be an activist group, learning and staying on top of all the activities within the UMC. We sincerely invite everyone to participate. For more information contact Carolyn Andrukonis at email@example.com or Karen Chevalier at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LGBTQ+ INCLUSION – WHAT’S NEXT IN THE UMC: On June 23rd we hosted a facilitated informational meeting about the issues surrounding LGBTQ+ inclusion within the larger United Methodist Church last month. The discussions will affect all local churches, including St. Matthew’s. The entire St. Matthew’s community was invited to attend and to submit feedback prior to the meeting. See the links below to see the discussion materials and the results of the post meeting survey completed by attendees. The materials and the survey report were compiled by Stephanie Hixon, our facilitator from JustPeace UMC.
The discussions at St. Matthew’s around LGBTQ+ inclusion are continuing. The discussion group meets at alternating times 9:45 or 11:15 on Sunday mornings. All are welcome to attend. Currently, the group is discussing a proposal for a church wide survey to bring to Church Council and the desire to establish a Reconciling group during the Sunday School hour in the fall.