On Sunday May 5th after the morning worship service, members and constituents of the Hebron United Methodist Church gathered to vote on a response to the outcome of the Special Session of the 2019 General Conference. This response came in the form of a letter to our District Superintendent Darneather Murph-Heath with a copy to our Bishop, Sally Dyck indicating that the Hebron United Methodist Church was disappointed by the General Conference decision to pass the Traditional Plan as it contradicts our church’s vision and mission statements. The response further states that our church will not support any further actions that will cause harm to our LGBTQ members, present and future, and asks for guidance from our leadership to move us forward in the path of love and full inclusion. (To read the full response letter, click here.).
After a brief discussion, two votes were taken. The outcome of both overwhelmingly supported this church action to send the letter. The first was the official vote of members only (14 voted in support, 2 opposed, 2 abstained) and the second was the vote of members and constituents (21 voted in support, 2 opposed, 2 abstained). The outcome of those votes was indicated on the letter, the letter was signed by our church council chairman, and by anyone in attendance who wished to sign it.
While 21 votes may not seem like a lot, to those of us who grew up in Hebron and its surrounding communities, we see it differently. “Small but mighty” is part of our town’s character and the character of our church family. The passion with which our members and constituents voted on that day was not just because of our conviction to be a more inclusive church, but also because of our conviction to remain together as a church family. We came away that day, not feeling like “this is now behind us” but that we have only just begun. While our mission and vision did not change that day, there was an unquestionable strengthening of our church’s identity and our connection to one another. Though we may still be working on “who we are,” it was very clear that day “who we are not.” And that is a good first step. We have chosen not to go down the path that supports the Traditional Plan which opens us up now to creating a new pathway, just as our mission states. Maybe we can do better than creating a pathway and also create a beacon that other people and other churches and other communities will see. Being small in number will not deter us. It may even make it easier to be carried to where God is calling us to be.
As co-chair of the Witness Team, I plan to continue this conversation in the N.O.W. Witness column in future issues of the church newsletter. I encourage anyone who has suggestions, news, articles, and other ideas on how you envision becoming an actively inclusive church to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We have so many ideas already that we are looking forward to share.
-Stephanie Claussen, Witness Co-Chair