ALCOA, Tenn. (March 1, 2019) -- Pastors in Holston are aware that actions of General Conference give the impression that some, especially those who identify as LGBTQ, are not welcome in The United Methodist Church.
They also know their members and communities are hurt, disappointed, confused, and in need of healing.
And they have something to say about that.
Here is a compilation of responses that you may find helpful as you speak with your congregations, answer questions, convince members to stay, or just calm the waters following General Conference.
See also: "Points for Pastors: Preaching and Talking about General Conference" by United Methodist Communications.
Rev. Timothy Best, St. Paul UMC, Knoxville, TN
"We will remain devoted to love and care for one another. Our identity at St. Paul has not changed based on the decisions made by the General Conference." Read comments.
Rev. Adam Love, Kingsley UMC, Kingsport, TN
"Many outside our walls will take today's action as an indication that we are unwelcoming to some. We must do all in our power to prove our love for all. The world is watching. Christ is counting on us." Read comments.
Rev. Chris Brown, Colonial Heights UMC, Kingsport, TN
"For those who are satisfied with the decision, I urge you to continue to pray for our brothers and sisters on the other side of the decision, many of whom feel hurt and abandoned by the church. And for those who are in pain this day, please know our church will continue to be a place that welcomes all people through God's steadfast and agape love." Read comments.
Rev. David Graybeal/ Rev. Andrew Lay, Keith Memorial UMC, Athens, TN
"We want to express our hope that there is something that will never change about Keith Church, which is our commitment to be a place where all persons are welcome to worship, to find and be found by the limitless love and grace of God, and to walk with us as we seek to live and love and serve the Jesus way together." Read comments.
Rev. Carol Wilson, Munsey Memorial UMC, Johnson City, TN
"This is a time for us to remember the power of kindness and for us to model the strength of Christian community marked by grace and forgiveness and humility." Read comments.
Rev. Paul Seay, Seymour UMC, Seymour, TN
"In spite of what you may have read or inferred from recent headlines, all people (gay, straight, conservative, liberal, black, white, citizen, immigrant, northerner, southerner, Duke fan, even Carolina fan) are welcome at Seymour United Methodist Church. Always have been and always will be." Read comments.
Rev. Evelyn Harris, St. Luke UMC, Chattanooga, TN
"There will be many people who once again have had their notions and experiences of an abusive and self-righteous Christianity confirmed. There will be many people who give up on their faith altogether. And yet, God is with us, together." Read comments.
Rev. Dale Gilbert, Pleasant View UMC, Abingdon, VA
"We love without condition and welcome anyone to join us at Christ’s table. We have an enemy, but it’s really not 'those people.' Jesus reminds us that we’re battling the gates of hell. Let’s not ever forget who is the real enemy." Read comments.
Rev. Tom Ballard, Fountain City UMC, Knoxville, TN
"Whether we are drowning in grief or beating our chests in triumph, the world is still broken. In the grand scheme of things, most of the world hasn't even blinked at the General Conference proceedings." Read comments.
Rev. Randy Frye, First Broad Street UMC, Kingsport, TN
"Regardless of what plan was or has been chosen, First Broad Street United Methodist Church is going to continue to be the church that we have always been. By that, we're going to continue to hold open our doors and to welcome anyone that who wants to worship here." See video.
Rev. Catherine Nance, First UMC, Maryville, TN
"We will acknowledge that we do not agree on everything, but that our fellowship is not centered on agreement but on Jesus Christ. We will be the church this Sunday!" Read comments.
Rev. David Woody, First UMC, Marion, VA
"The call of the Gospel did not change today. Yes, my heart hurts. Yes, the future is STILL unclear. But I still love God and I still love you … ALL of you!" Read comments.
Rev. Brian Davis, St. Marks UMC, Chattanooga, TN
"Our church and this legislation can't tell us who we are in Christ. That's something that only God can do. And as we read scripture over and over, we find the truth that in Jesus Christ, we're all children of God." See video.
Rev. Charla Sherbakoff, Allen Memorial UMC, Athens, TN
"We will continue to welcome everyone. 'You are welcome here' and 'We have a place for you' are messages we will continue to proclaim." See comments.
Rev. Dennis Loy, Magnolia Avenue UMC, Knoxville, TN
"The work of being the Body of Christ continues Sunday in worship at St. Luke, Macedonia, and Magnolia Avenue. God is no discriminator of persons and The United Methodist Church still proclaims all persons to be of sacred worth." See comments.
Rev. Mary K Briggs, Emory & Henry College, Emory, VA
"God's doors are open to all at Emory & Henry College." (A message accompanying a photo of rainbow-colored doors and an invitation to attend a "safe place to gather as a loving community to process our feelings following the General Conference's adoption.")
Contact Annette Spence at firstname.lastname@example.org
Local pastors say 'all are welcome' after UMC vote (WJHL, 2.27.19)
General Conference is over. What happens now? (UM Communications, 2.27.19)