Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Grace and peace to all of you. The special session of General Conference 2019 has ended but the church is far from done. I want to thank you for your prayers and support in the days leading up to and through the conference. I know there are questions and concerns regarding the outcome of the votes in St. Louis, and I want to offer a summary, a light of hope, and an invitation.
Many petitions and amendments were brought before the delegates for a vote, but there are two key approved petitions which are now in the hands of the church judicial council for review. The Traditional Plan – which supports existing language in the Book of Discipline prohibiting the ordination of gay and lesbian clergy and the officiating of same-sex marriages, and now also tightens enforcement for non-compliance – was approved over the Simple Plan and the One Church Plan. Another petition was also approved providing a means of exit from the denomination for any churches that feel they cannot abide by the guidelines of the Traditional Plan and choose to disaffiliate. Again, both of these measures are under review with the judicial council regarding constitutionality. We await further information.
No matter the actions that have taken place at this General Conference, be assured that Epworth remains committed to caring for LGBTQ persons and their families, and anyone who has been hurt by the vote in St. Louis. We remain committed to welcoming, loving, and including ALL.
On Saturday, March 2nd, Bishop Gregory V. Palmer will address the West Ohio Conference about the results of the special session in St. Louis and also look ahead to next steps. Epworth is one location in the conference for a simulcast of the statement. It will take place in the sanctuary beginning at 10am and will last about one hour. It will also be available to view online at a later date.
Thank you again for your prayers and support. We shall continue to care for one another, show love for all, and serve God with our unique gifts and talents.
In Christ’s service,
Rev. Dr. Douglas Damron
Rev. Beth Irwin
Rev. Dave Pettengill
Pastor of Student and Family Ministries
Rev. Jennifer Bailey
Pastor of Welcome