From the Pastor
As I write this, we have not yet had the disaffiliation vote. To date, I haven’t really been able to get a read on how the vote will go. However, I suspect it will be close. This is not what I would prefer, but it is probably the reality. I would prefer that the vote be very lopsided one way or the other. That would mean that the congregation of FUMC-Deming really is united. In this case, it would be easy to for most of us to move forward as a body as we worship Christ together. A close vote is likely a different story.
One of my worst fears as your pastor is something splintering this body of believers. I have seen and heard of many churches that have splintered because of a close vote, some of them just one vote away from disaffiliation and some just a few votes above that threshold. Either way, half of the congregation, or a little more, is left feeling abandoned and disenfranchised. Too often when this happens, half the congregation leaves the local church. I haven’t seen any statistics, but it wouldn’t surprise me to find that a good number of those who leave the local church also leave the church universal. For those people it will probably be several years – if ever – before they step foot inside another church.
My prayer for all of us as we approach this vote is that we remain united as a body, regardless of whether we remain United Methodist or vote to disaffiliate and become something else. From my perspective, we get along very well as a church. We love each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. We even like each other as people most of the time. I pray this continues to be the case.
Hebrews 10:19-25 reads:
19Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (English Standard Version)
This is what we need to focus on moving forward. I haven’t read anywhere in Scripture where God tells us that we must worship under the banner of a particular denomination. It doesn’t matter to our Heavenly Father if we are United Methodist, Global Methodist, Roman Catholic, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Baptist, or anything else. It only matters to God that we worship God, and that we worship God TOGETHER! So, friends, no matter what happens on August 30th, let us each be very intentional about being the church – that is God’s church, the church of Jesus Christ – to each other. Nurture the relationships that already exist among this body. Foster new ones with our brothers and sisters whom we see every week, but don’t really know. Let us look to the example of God’s love and grace to understand how we should be. After all, God loves everyone. That means everyone, even you and me.