The following is a summary concerning the work of the Commission on a Way Forward and our response as a local church including prayer. You will receive updates in the weeks and months ahead as more information is available
- Pastor Doug.
Discerning the Way Forward
The United Methodist Church stands at a crossroads. The Mountain Sky Area of the UMC (Rocky Mountain and Yellowstone conferences) recently appointed Karen Oliveto, an openly gay minister from California, as Bishop. Differing opinions about this appointment, in addition to the growing movement of other denominations to be more inclusive of the LGBTQ community, has led the hierarchy of the church to set in motion the process for a formal evaluation of The United Methodist Church’s stance on homosexuality. We stand at a crossroads, but we are not in crisis. You may have heard that the Methodist church is going to “split”, but there has been no such movement in that direction. The Commission on a Way Forward, created by the 2016 General Conference of the UMC, is working to develop what they discern to be God’s plan for the United Methodist Church. There have been no final plans to date, but it appears that there will be a called General Conference in February of 2019 to act on the recommendations that have been developed by the Commission. To date, there have been some preliminary indications of the options that will be proposed, but the recommendations will not be finalized until later this spring, and nothing will officially change until 2019.
So what does this mean for Rutherford Memorial, and how should we proceed? First, the entire church body should recognize that the crossroads exists. We need to know that there is a high probability that there will be changes in the UMC Book of Discipline. Second, we as individuals should track the progress in the deliberations of the Commission on a Way Forward. The best way to get to this information is not the national press or even the United Methodist website. The most up-to-date information is to be found by typing “Commission on a Way Forward” in Google and clicking on entries there. There are also several useful articles at www.um-insight.net. Third, when the time is right, we need to meet as a church to understand the proposed recommendations of the Commission on a Way Forward (when they are issued) and to consider how this will impact Rutherford Memorial. Finally, we need to assure that we hold the Commission, the UMC and RMUMC in our prayers. We must always keep in mind the core ideas behind our shared beliefs and keep these prominent in our discussions and prayers. God’s will always prevail in the long run. We just need to make sure that our discussions and directions are not an impediment to His will for our denomination and our church.
If you would like more information on this topic, or would like to help organize discussions and/or meetings in the coming months, please contact Stephani McCarty at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nothing great is ever accomplished in life without passion. This quality allows us to persevere against all odds. It energizes us. Passion causes us to try the impossible and succeed. Passion gives us a reason to get up in the morning and declare, "I’m going to do something with my life today." Without passion life becomes boring. It becomes monotonous. It becomes routine. It becomes dull. God created you with the emotions to have passion in your life and He wants you to live a passionate life.
We can love sports passionately. We can be passionate about movies, restaurants and politics. But people tend to frown on those who are passionate about God. When the Lord Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, He was saying love God passionately. He doesn't want us to love Him half-heartedly. We are to seek, serve and obey God passionately.
Romans 12:11"Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor." Notice, it’s not automatic. It’s a choice. It’s a discipline. It’s something you must maintain.
C. S. Lewis said it like this, "The only thing Christianity cannot be is moderately important."
So how are you in your passion for God? Are you lukewarm? Are you just going through the motions? We can be as passionate about God as we want. Ask the Holy Spirit to stir up passion in you and get ready to experience more of Him.
We will celebrate Pentecost on June 4 this year. Why is Pentecost so important to Christians? There are many things that we can learn from the experience of Pentecost but let me zero in on three things it teaches us as it relates to the Church.
First, we see that the church was created by God. After Christ's death, burial, resurrection, and ascension the Church is formed. The Church becomes a reality on the Day of Pentecost. The apostles didn't meet together and decide to start a church. The Holy Spirit came from heaven and brought the Church into being. This means the Church belongs to Him. We are here today because the Holy Spirit has given spiritual birth and filled us to form the Church in Corryton.
Second, the mission of the Church is to communicate the love of God to a lost world. The theme of Pentecost is communication so the apostles could share the Good News to the different nations represented. We are empowered by the Spirit to accomplish this mission.
Third, the goal of the church is to create a unique fellowship. The 3000 converts on the day of Pentecost were bound together by the Holy Spirit. Each one found that the Spirit had given them unique spiritual gifts to be used in the Church. It was a new society, truly a family.
Let us celebrate the truth this Pentecost that the Church is not an institution but an organism birthed and maintained by the Holy Spirit.
If we are going to embrace what God is doing new, we must not dwell on the past. "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland" (Isaiah 43:18-19). This does not mean we ignore past hurts or bitterness from past experiences. Those things must be dealt with. But let our focus not be on the past.
Past victories cannot deal with the need for today. We need a new work, a new miracle, a new victory. Yes, we are thankful for what God has done in the past but what is God doing in your life right now, and in the life of our church?
Do not let past failures control you. God does not condemn you for the past but frees you from the past and now He holds out His hand of hope.
Position yourself by calling out to God and expecting Him to do something new in 2017. Check your focus. When you look at your life do you see problems or possibilities. God wants to make a way in your desert areas and bring streams into our wastelands. Ask Him to increase your faith and your hope to receive what He has for you.
God is doing a new thing! Let's embrace Him in 2017.