Questions from Seminar Series
Are you talking to everyone in the church to determine how we would vote if there is a vote?
The primary reason to meet with church members is so they can share their hopes and concerns about St. Paul's with their pastor. For me, the key question is, "Do you want to tell someone else who thinks differently than you that you'd prefer they not be part of your church anymore?" A significant majority of people I've met with thus far, and who identify themselves on either side of this issue, have indicated that they do not want to reject fellow members, nor do they want to send any kind of hurtful message to people who identify as LGBTQIA+, or those who have family members who identify as such.
With all the religious sub-groups (e.g. within Islam) that divide and kill each other over various issues, why would anyone want St. Paul's to act in a divisive way?
This is more of a statement than a question, but I would add that Christians do the same. As a child, I was stunned when I learned that Protestants and Catholics were killing each other in Ireland. I could not fathom how anyone who professed to follow Jesus could kill someone for being a different type of Christian. I suppose this is my struggle even today as I see that there are in excess of 30,000 Christian denominations, not including para-church organizations of every conceivable sort, who all seem to think they are the "truest" and most "biblical" Christians.
In your letter you mentioned how, despite current restrictions on same-sex marriage (and ordination), LGBTQIA+ persons are welcome at St. Paul's. Does that welcome extend to baptism, membership, etc.?
Yes, certainly. As long as I have been ordained, this has been the position of the UMC, and there was no change to this at the Special General Conference last February.