Right now our hearts range from breaking to furious. We lament in uncertainty. No matter our emotional state or the unfolding information, Belmont UMC’s resolve is fixed. We must be who God has called us to be as reflected in our welcome statement. No matter Belmont’s path, we must bear witness to the ways our denomination has done harm by accusatory theology, ungracious practices, and uneven church rules. Labeling persons made in God’s image as “incompatible” is incompatible with welcome, Jesus, and community. In the uncertainty, we must remember Belmont’s deep and beautiful Methodist connection through agencies, boards, colleges, candidates, clergy, missionaries, pensions, publishing houses, retirees, e-readers, and the trust clause. Belmont UMC’s personal connections run deep.
So what do we do? Well, the schismatic dust will likely not begin to even settle until sometime after June. Today, some of our Belmont family believe we should stay inside the UMC, working to redeem and redirect our broken denomination. Others want to leave, feeling the UMC harms our mission and membership. To deny this tension is to preach peace when there is no peace. Sadly, the church has been slow of heart in embracing the prophetic and minority reports in regards to the New Testament, including the uncircumcised, Sunday worship, pork barbeque, abolition of slavery, full clergy rights for women, allowing remarriage after divorce, allowing divorced clergy to serve, and many more issues.
As we move into the season of Lent, let us not be afraid to lament and to ponder our path, being awake, strong, courageous, brave, and doing everything in love (Corinthians). As Rick Keuler, our Administrative Board chair, reminded us, “Let us be bold, but not rash!”