January 10, 2020
Dear Lynchburg District Friends,
I greet you with the grace and peace of Christ in these early days of 2020.
By now you are probably aware that last week a Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation was released by a group of 16 United Methodist bishops, clergy, and lay people representing a diverse array of affinity groups within The United Methodist Church. Working with a skilled mediator, this unofficial group has presented one proposal to potentially be considered at the 2020 General Conference of The United Methodist Church meeting on May 5 – 15, 2020, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Unfortunately many media outlets presented this Protocol as if a decision has already been made for The United Methodist Church to split.
As I have learned more about the Protocol and the process that led to it, I would share these reflections:
This is not a done deal. The only entity that can make decisions about the structure of The United Methodist Church is the General Conference when it meets in May to consider several proposed plans to move through our long standing conflict over issues of LGBTQ inclusion. As conversations continue, many things can still happen between now and May, and at General Conference. I do appreciate the spirit of reconciliation and dialogue which seems to have permeated the conversation. This seems to have been a unique gathering of very diverse viewpoints.
It will continue to be important to stay connected to God and to each other. Recently Bishop Lewis reminded us that while spiritual disciplines like prayer, Bible study, and other ways of staying close to God are important, they are especially important during this time within the life of our denomination. John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, encouraged the Methodists to “watch over one another in love.” We don’t have to always agree with each other, but we can always see one another in the light of Christ’s love for us. The world is watching to see how we will treat one another during this conflict.
I encourage you to stay informed. If you haven’t done so, take a look at the The Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation, the Frequently Asked Questions: Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace, and additional resources on the Virginia United Methodist Conference Website: vaumc.org. Take advantage of the January 13, 2020, 9:30 am Livestream panel discussion with members of the team that developed this proposal.
Consider attending a time of Prayer and Conversation to discuss plans being presented to General Conference, Sunday, February 9, 2020, 2:00 – 4:00 pm, at Hurt United Methodist Church, 105 Riverview Road, Hurt, VA, 24563. More information will be forthcoming.
I’m grateful for your calm, informed, Christ-centered leadership as we continue to witness to the love of Christ within and beyond the walls of our churches. I believe God will show us the next steps we are to take. In the meantime, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
Grace and peace,
Rev. Scott E. Davis, District Superintendent