GC2019: Sample pastoral letter to the congregation
Pastors of United Methodist churches are seeing a wide range of reactions to General Conference within their congregation. Some church members may need time to heal from emotional wounds while others may be concerned about the potential effects on their congregation. United Methodist Communications is providing a sample pastor’s letter to help them address these concerns. You are welcome to share this letter with your congregation or use it as a guide for formulating your own letter.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
As many of you know the 2019 Special Session of General Conference has completed its work. Eight hundred and sixty-four United Methodist delegates from across the United States, Africa, Europe and Philippines met in St. Louis from Feb. 24-26 to consider paragraphs of The Book of Discipline concerning human sexuality and ministry to LGBTQI persons.
The General Conference voted against the One Church Plan recommended by the majority of our church’s bishops. The General Conference instead passed the Traditional Plan, which maintains the denomination’s ban on same-sex marriage and prohibition on the ordination of self-avowed practicing homosexuals with additional accountability for enforcing those policies. The constitutionality of key points within the Traditional Plan has been called into question and will be reviewed by the Judicial Council in April.
I am grateful for the prayers of all of you for our church and our delegates. Some of you may be pleased or relieved by the decisions made by the conference while others are in deep pain and anguish. I particularly want to acknowledge the pain this has caused our LGBTQI brothers and sisters along with their families and loved ones. Please know that you are a beloved child of God and member of our church community. You are both invited and welcomed to participate in our ministries.
United Methodists are members of a global and diverse denomination and are clearly not of one mind on questions around human sexuality. In spite of our differences, we are all children of God. At a time in which our society is becoming increasing polarized, my hope is still that the church can be a place where people of different backgrounds, cultures and opinions will come together.
The effects of the General Conference’s decisions on the denomination are still being determined. None of the legislation will become church law until Jan. 1, 2020. I encourage each of you to give yourselves time to process and heal and continue to offer love to each other. We will continue our vital ministry and seek to be a community that welcomes and loves all people. As we learn more, we will discuss next steps together.
I encourage everyone to be in prayer over the next few months for our church, our denomination and for all those who are scared or hurting. My door is always open if you need to talk or pray with someone. May we all continue to love one another as Christ loves us.
Grace and Peace
Other helpful resources to use or publicize
- Suicide Prevention Hotlines
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline (U.S.) 1-800-273-8255 (English and Spanish)
- Crisis Text Line, text "SAFE" to 741-741
- The Trevor Project, 866-488-7386 (suicide prevention for LGBTQIA+ youth)
- Official Highlights: General Conference 2019 video
- General Conference is over: What happens now?
- Use ‘The Movement Continues’ to look forward