What a wonderful sight that is when you pull in for a late-night meal after a long drive, hoping someone is still serving. Relief!
This week, we who are United Methodists have been searching, some frantically, for a sign that we are still open. We are. And, as the words to a familiar hymn state, “And are we yet alive?” Yes! Are we in a state of confusion? Yes. Has the dust settled on the General Conference vote and consequences for the local church? No.
Yet, for us, for the family of faith called First United Methodist Church of Fort Worth, we will continue to “go out to be God’s people in the world,” as we say in our Sanctuary services each Sunday.
The One Church Plan supported by our delegation (which was headed by Dr. Bruster) was the plan that allowed all of us — traditionalists, progressives, conservatives, whatever — to remain at the table, together, as family, united with Christ as our center. Though opinions differed greatly, the hand of grace was extended across the table. A wide representation of conservatives, traditionals, and progressives affirmed this plan. Under the One Church Plan, no one would be forced to conform to theological interpretations of scripture that they could not affirm. No one would be forced out of the church.
Sadly, the One Church Plan was not passed, nor was it even given much opportunity for discussion. And although the Traditional Plan was voted by the delegates (following a motion presented by Dr. Bruster) to be sent back to Judicial Council because it was still largely unconstitutional, the future of our denomination remains uncertain. (View the three plans proposed by Council of Bishops based on the work of the Commission On A Way Forward.)
However, I am proud to say that our family of faith has and will continue to model the One Church Plan in our local church in a way that the worldwide church could not. We will continue to use the Wesleyan Quadrilateral to examine scripture (Scripture, Tradition, Reason, and Experience).
We will continue to be in conversation with one another, regardless of our differences. We will continue to be a force for good in our community and in our world. We will tell our children the stories of our faith and impress upon them that God loves them, deeply and without any reservation. We will continue to provide a place for teenagers to gather in close community, engaging in ministry, exploring the ways in which faith will guide their lives.
We will continue to provide a variety of styles of worship to inspire worshippers to center their lives in a God of mercy, grace, love, compassion, and justice. I could go on and on. I love this church — and this congregation. From my earliest years here while a student in seminary at TCU, I knew that the witness of this community was astounding and something in which I wanted to continue to be engaged.
There is palpable excitement in the air for this church, as we are growing in both discipleship and numbers. There is a welcoming atmosphere and a humble gentleness toward those who may be different from us.
There is an openness to learning and rethinking what feeds our souls — and a willingness to face new challenges. That is the church I love. That is the church you love and have given so much of yourselves to in our continued ministry together.
I may not know what the denomination will look like in the weeks or months to come, but I know what FUMCFW will look like — a community of the faithful seeking to walk in the ways of Jesus.
Associate Pastor of Worship