A Message from Your Pastors
On Friday, January, 3, 2020, United Methodists made national news headlines with the release of the new “Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation” by a diverse group of leaders in our denomination. These leaders represented very different and significant values and constituencies in our twelve million member global church. Some of the news reports you may have read have been accurate, while others have gotten many details wrong.
The biggest misconception is that decisions have already been made and that a split in the United Methodist Church is a “done deal.” In reality, only our General Conference, a representative global gathering of United Methodist clergy and layperson delegates, which meets again in May 2020, can make decisions and speak for The United Methodist Church officially. A number of proposals have emerged but until General Conference meets, they are only proposals for consideration.
Nonetheless, our denomination does have deep differences in doctrine, theology and biblical interpretation. These differences have led us to an impasse on the identity and place of LGBTQ persons in our churches and annual conferences, specifically related to marriage and ordination.
The reality facing our denomination is heartbreaking. But herein lies our hope: these same differences are present in our Family Life Center and Sanctuary each time we gather for worship, celebrate a Baptism, receive Holy Communion, meet with our Sunday School classes, sing in the choir, sit down for a meal together on Wednesday night, and serve our homeless neighbors on Tuesday morning. We are the Body of Christ together in all of these times and places because of God’s grace. Our hope is in our unity in Christ that transcends our differences at Ocala First UMC. In a world increasing divided along political, economic, racial and cultural lines, our unity in diversity is one of our most essential testimonies to the power and presence of Jesus Christ today. They will know we are Christians by our love.
As Bishop Ken Carter shared in a Facebook post: “We are seeking to be faithful disciples of Jesus Christ, faithful to the scriptures, faithful to our tradition as Methodists. And we are seeking to welcome all people into the full life and ministry of the church, and, more deeply, into the grace of God. We are seeking to live together with our brothers and sisters across the world who are in very different contexts, and have much to teach us.”
We are available to talk with you about these proposals. We will schedule informational sessions leading up to General Conference to keep our congregation updated and provide accurate and timely information.
We love being your pastors, and we know you will join us in prayer for our denomination in the weeks and months ahead.
Grace and Peace,
Anne and David Fuquay
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