May 3, 2022
Beloved Weston United Methodist friends and family,
As some of you are aware, the United Methodist Church looks a bit different since the announced disaffiliation and subsequent launch of the Global Methodist Church (GMC), effective May 1st 2022. I am writing to you with a heavy heart, an uneasy spirit, and a mind full of more questions than answers. My hunch is that many of you are feeling the same.
The newly formed GMC is made up of some of our denomination’s more theologically and socially conservative members. Its existence has been in its planning stages since the specially called General Conference adjourned in 2019. This special session of the General Conference was called specifically to discuss matters related to the Church’s stance on human sexuality and the full inclusion of our LGBTQIA+ siblings. At that time, our global UMC voted - by a narrow majority - to uphold the language in the UMC’s Disciple which states that “homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching,” while also imposing significant penalties for clergy who officiate same-sex marriages or are “self avowed, practicing homosexuals.” This decision against inclusion was not something our New England Annual Conference supported, many of whom were hoping for an outcome where both conservative and liberal United Methodists continued to coexist under the big tent of United Methodism. As we can now see, this was not possible even under the best of circumstances.
With the launch of the Global Methodist Church (GMC), many churches will be faced with making decisions whether to stay with the UMC, to disaffiliate and go with the GMC, or to disaffiliate from Methodism completely to form a new, independent congregation. Clergy will be faced with similar choices. None of these decisions are quick or easy, or made without prayerful consideration. For these reasons I ask us to hold all our UMC siblings in prayer as this plays out over the next few years.
However, while the launch of the GMC has certainly created some uncertainty, some things remain the same:
Our identity as a United Methodist Church serving Weston, Waltham, Lincoln, Maynard, and beyond
Our stance as a Reconciling Ministries partner congregation where all of God’s beloveds are welcome regardless of gender, identity, sexuality, race, ethnicity, country of origin, age, ability, neurodiversity, or marital, immigration, educational, or socioeconomic status.
Our baptismal covenant to accept the freedom and power God gives us to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves
Our status as beloved children created in the image of a loving Creator God.
Yet even as these things do not change, this still can feel like a frightening and unstable time. This is valid, beloveds. I encourage us all to reach out to one another as we navigate these strange times together. I encourage you all to have conversations with me and others about our denomination and our Wesleyan identity as it pertains to the way we “do church” as United Methodists.
When it comes to having these conversations via platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, please remember as you read the posts and updates made by friends or family or church affiliates, there is no filter for raw emotion or perspective. Tensions are high and no matter where we find ourselves on the topic of inclusion, we are all feeling the weight of this uncertainty. Please keep this in mind and recognize that while some posts may seem reactionary or inflammatory to you, they are indeed a valid way of processing. Grace must abound in order for us all to make it through this time.
I hope you all will join me in prayer for our church and our people and our world. May all of our hearts remain open to the possibilities of the Spirit so that God may break through in a brilliant and creative movement of Love. We are #StillUMC.
With grace and prayers for peace,
Rev. Alicia Velez Stewart
Pastor, Weston United Methodist Church - Weston, MA