Belmont UMC’s Administrative Board met for its spring 2022 meeting on Sunday March 6. There was a great sense of excitement as the group reviewed updates from ministry areas and discussed ways to continue to grow connections based on recent developments in the COVID pandemic.

Pastoral staff gave updates from their areas of focus. Highlights included Pastor Paul’s celebration of Youth Sunday last Sunday; Kate Fields’ celebration of the pancake breakfast before Sunday school two weeks ago and the upcoming Easter Egg hunt in partnership with the Belmont Weekday School; Heather Harriss celebrated Encore ministries; and Ingrid McIntyre’s updates on several advocacy efforts including a recent Tennessee opinion piece written by three of our youth giving their voice to important issues and the recently completed anti-racism series initiated by the Young Adult Ministries group and the youth.

Bill Cooper, Belmont UMC’s Lay Leader, presented an update on the Inclusive Wedding Working Group. The group was charged to guide Belmont’s considerations as we live into our ongoing journey to live into God’s call for inclusion and ministry to all by being gender neutral and non-discriminatory in our consideration of requests for marriage. The group took into account Belmont’s commitment to our connectional denomination, balanced with our desire to create a safe and sacred space for Christian weddings. Bill described the activities since the last report of the Working Group in fall 2021. Belmont’s Board of Trustees has adopted a wedding policy that is gender neutral and non-discriminatory. The pastoral staff and the Staff Parish Relations Committee have done important work affirming their mutual understanding of our pastors’ call to inclusive ministry and Belmont’s strong support and commitment to them. In addition, the Working Group has done collaborative work with the Bishop and the Conference on understanding and navigating processes, recognizing the dynamic nature of the United Methodist Church. Bill reported that the Working Group has focused on identifying guiding principles and priorities rather than step by step plans. The priorities include Belmont’s commitment to love and support individuals requesting marriage and celebrate commitment without introducing tension and spectacle, embrace gender neutral and non-discriminatory wedding practices, support our pastoral staff and church family, and continue our commitment to our connectional denomination. In honoring these priorities, Bill shared Belmont’s plans to follow our gender neutral and non-discriminatory wedding policy for future weddings, beginning immediately.

Administrative Board Chair Jeff Sheehan provided an update on Regathering, including current efforts to encourage Belmonters to return to activities as their comfort and safety allows. Jeff highlighted some great new activities and growing energy as we welcome new people into our church family and foster a sense of real belonging.