Friends and family of the UMC Vista,
Grace and peace to you in the name of our Gracious God! May God uphold us all in this time of change and clarification.
Today, our Special Called General Conference passed the Traditional Plan. It is still unclear what this will ultimately mean, because many parts and passages of the Traditional Plan have been declared unconstitutional by Judicial Council, and it has all been referred to Judicial Council again for review. Even so, this act by the delegates of General Conference makes clear the brokenness of our global church body and lack of capacity to be a united people moving together toward God’s kingdom.
To LGBTQ+ church members and allies, I am saddened by the vote. The global United Methodist Church failed to love you as God loves you, and to recognize your gifts in the church. You are not the first people who’ve experienced such harm in the church, although that doesn’t reduce the pain of today. Time always brings God’s redeeming grace, but for this moment I acknowledge our deep pain and share your hurt.
This church, the United Methodist Church of Vista is not of one mind about the issues surrounding our LGBTQ+ siblings, but I have heard over and over that you value hospitality and welcome. I am certain that we will continue to open our doors to all people without regard to race, financial status, marital status, education or who anyone loves. You have spent the last year and many before it working toward justice and the care for all people. You are a church committed to homeless ministry and learning about human trafficking so you can make a difference and reaching out to care for children in Haiti and Zimbabwe and to places in the world where disasters are unfolding. Today was a day that set in motion dramatic changes in our denomination, but I pray we will not be deterred from our efforts to be Christ’s hands and voice in Vista and the world!
Let us be united in hope that God is bringing new life to the world and our Christian family. Let us be united in faith that God has a vision which is so much larger than ours. Let us be united in love for one another, just as we have always been! Let us not be torn apart but instead let us build one another up and be a model for living Christ’s love even when we represent a diversity of understanding.
I continue to be inspired to be your pastor and I give thanks for you! I hope to see you this Sunday so that we may join together around the peace pole between services in support for the hurting and in praise to the Spirit who makes us one!
Grace and peace to you, Your Sister in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Leigh Ann Shaw