Although we are still reviewing the full implications of what transpired, we believe that the actions of the United Methodist General Conference in St. Louis, Missouri are incompatible with Belmont UMC’s mission and the Gospel. Frankly, we like many church leaders, are utterly stunned and deeply saddened as we share the hurt, anger and sorrow that many are feeling. Belmont is committed to its witness of God’s inclusive love for ALL people. Our Welcome Statement, adopted in 2013, is unchanged. We will not stop advocating, fighting and working until our church is able to welcome all people fully with no reservations. We continue to believe in our core that all means all. We are disheartened but we will not waiver from our understanding of what Jesus calls us to do.
We believe every person is of sacred worth and created in God’s image. We commit to Jesus’ example of inclusive love, care, and intentional hospitality with persons of every race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, faith story, physical or mental ability, economic status, or political perspective. We respect our diversity of opinion and expressions of faith. Therefore, as God loves us, so let us love and serve in the name of Christ.
Click here for an update from Paul Purdue and a timeline of upcoming events that will impact the decision.
A message from Senior Pastor, Paul Purdue
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!”