Elkhorn Hills UMC Members & Friends –
I just returned from St. Louis where our UMC General Conference was held this last weekend and I wanted to do a quick update about the work that was completed and the work that is still ongoing.
As you may have heard, the One Church Plan that was recommended by 2/3 of our UM Bishops and had the support of nearly 65% of our US delegates, did not make it out of the committee session. Instead, the Traditional Plan was moved forward from the committee and put before the plenary session for a vote. It was approved by a narrow margin, even though it remains largely unconstitutional.
The Traditional Plan is now subject to a review by our Judicial Council – our UM “Supreme Court.” They will make their ruling about the constitutionality of this plan and its parts at their meeting in April. We will not know the full impact of the plan until then, but even after that, the implementation of this plan will not begin until January 1st, 2020. So, our work is not done.
I want to be clear that this was not a victory for anyone. Our denomination is hurting, our local churches are fractured, and the work that we have done has caused even more harm to our LGBTQ+ family members, friends, church members, and clergy. Being there in person was probably the hardest and most important thing I have ever done.
I want to be clear that I will continue to be a pastor who preaches God’s love for ALL people, our communion table will continue to welcome ALL people, and our congregation will continue to be a place where ALL people can come and experience God’s amazing grace for themselves. That will not be changed.
Town hall with Bishop Ruben Saenz
I also want to make sure you know that on Sunday, March 24th Bishop Ruben Saenz will be hosting a Town Hall from 2pm-5pm at St. Andrew’s UMC here in Omaha. I’d encourage you to join us for this time so that you can hear directly from our Bishop about how the work of this General Conference will impact our Great Plains Conference and our local churches. In the coming weeks I will also be in conversation with our Elkhorn Hills leadership, and I am happy to visit with any of you one-on-one about the questions you may have as well.
Since General Conference ended, I’ve been reminding myself that our work is not done – that we still have lots of love to share as we serve others in the name of Jesus Christ. I pray that we will continue to find creative, inspiring ways to do that work together.
Pastor Rebecca Hjelle