LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. -- A petition calling for unity in the United Methodist Church has been circulated through social media by a group of Holston Conference clergy and lay members since June 5.
During the June 9 morning session of the Holston Annual Conference, the Rev. Daniel Ogle, an originator of the petition, asked Bishop Mary Virginia Taylor for a "point of privilege." Taylor granted the request.
Ogle read aloud the following statement, most of which accompanies the June 5 petition entitled "Unity in The Holston Conference of The United Methodist Church":
Bishop Taylor and members of Holston Annual Conference, I am honored to lift my voice in unity with more than 300 Holston voices.
As members, both laity and clergy, of the Holston Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, we acknowledge the difficult and distressing issues facing the denomination in which we live out our shared faith in Jesus Christ. We affirm that our church faces complex problems without simple solutions. Although the presenting issues may center on human sexuality, the challenge is far deeper than this one particular issue.
And while our disagreements are significant, and not to be minimized, we confess our faith in a Triune God who has given us a ministry not of division and fracture, but has reconciled us through Christ and given us a ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18).
Therefore, as disciples of Jesus Christ, we are united in our opposition to schism in the United Methodist Church. We do not yet believe that dividing the church into like-minded denominations is the best solution to solve the issues facing us. We are committed, in the audacity of Resurrection Faith and in the power of the Holy Spirit, to a shared life with diverse voices at the table.
We commit to this life because we believe division will weaken our Christian witness and lead us to lose much of what makes the United Methodist Church an authentic expression of the Body of Christ. Our 2014 Annual Conference began as we celebrated Pentecost, the day in which one Spirit came to rest upon a diversity of people and produced a variety of gifts. We commit in the coming year to intentionally find times to gather so that United Methodists of all persuasions – conservative and liberal, clergy and lay – may engage in holy conferencing about how to bear witness to the love of God in a divided and increasingly polarized world.
We commit ourselves to renewing our focus upon reaching a generation skeptical of the church, creating new places of worship for new people, being in ministry with Jesus by being in ministry with the poor, offering healing and hope for those afflicted by the scourge of disease near and far, recruiting young people for a lifetime of vital ministry in the United Methodist Church and doing whatever it takes to continue in the work of the Great Commission. While much attention centers on what currently divides us, we are convinced that which unites us - our shared faith in the Risen Christ - is much stronger.
In conclusion, claiming one Lord, one Faith and one Baptism, we pray that by the Holy Spirit our common life may be renewed, our brokenness may be healed and our witness may be strengthened in power so that we may more faithfully tend to our fundamental mission:
To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.