The Leader's Blog is a good opportunity to give you all an update on what the Leadership Board has been doing thus far this year.
In January we approved the 2018-operating budget of $439,554 (a 2% increase over 2017). The May Treasurer's report shows the budget is on target - to date expenses are lower than income.
After formally approving Dale's Renewal Leave in January, we were pleased to hear Dale report that his time away was a time of personal growth and clarity.
The Safe Sanctuary Policy was updated. In April a Safety and Security Task Force began meeting to evaluate our safety status and make recommendations regarding needed improvements and safety policies.
All of the above items are quite routine Board responsibilities, but at our May meeting we also began discussing an important topic facing MUMC as well as the United Methodist Church as a whole. That is, the denomination's official position on same-sex marriage, the ordination of LGBTQ clergy, and related topics.
The purpose of the Leadership Board discussion was to update Board members by sharing information from UMC press releases. We discussed the issues, the process the denomination is using to address this complicated subject, as well as the importance of keeping our congregation informed.
A Special General UM Conference with delegates from around the world has been scheduled for February 2019 to take up these issues (and only these issues). News of this Conference has been widely publicized within the UM community and UMC website, but many United Methodists may not have seen these reports. I've included a link from UMC.org that provides background about the preparation for this Special General Conference as well as the 3 proposals that will be presented.
I've been thinking and praying a lot about my personal feelings concerning the church's stance on human sexuality, and it has been challenging. While I am at peace with my position regarding same-sex marriage and inclusiveness, I know some people I care about and respect have another viewpoint. And that's where the challenge comes in for me.
When Dale talked about Nicodemus in his sermon the week before last, I identified with his observation that Nicodemus must have been confused. Because of his interaction with Jesus, he had to revisit his understanding of the Old Testament. He proceeded with caution, meeting with Jesus in the darkness. After all, what would his students, colleagues and friends think about his meeting with this radical Jesus? What he heard from Jesus turned his world upside down. But he met with Jesus and that changed everything for him. I've got to assume that after his first tentative meeting, he did talk with is friends about what he felt.
These are important issues that the denomination is facing. Remembering that we are the church it's my prayer that we can discuss these issues in a loving, prayerful and respectful way. That's what Jesus taught us and modeled for us - love one another. LOVE! LOVE!
I know this is a lot to take in and there are a lot of questions not addressed in this already-too-long blog post, but it is a start. At our Leadership Board meeting we didn't talk about specifics, we just opened the dialogue. The Board and Dale will do our best to keep the congregation informed as this Special General Conference reaches its decisions and we understand the impact of the decisions on our congregation. There's a lot more conversation to come at the Leadership Board and among the congregation.
May we make room for one another with love in our hearts and Jesus as our guide.
Kathy Savage, Leadership Board Chairperson