United Methodist Developments
from the Pastor of the Church in Ocean Park
"What is the Name of the New Denomination?"
"What will happen to the Church in Ocean Park and the pastor?"
These are some of the many questions I am being asked almost daily by people in the community, and I'm grateful for your concern during this fluid time in the United Methodist Church (UMC).
Some background: The Church in Ocean Park is an interfaith congregation dedicated to social justice. The congregation, including leadership in all roles, consists of people of different faith traditions. However, I am a United Methodist minister appointed here by my bishop. The property and 3 buildings are held in trust by the Cal-Pac Annual Conference of the UMC.
The global UMC has had major disagreements for decades about the interpretation of scripture. This has currently manifested in a specific disagreement about whether or not homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. The fires of this disagreement have been stoked by the IRD (an outside organization that has infiltrated other denominations as well). We have been dialoguing, organizing and resisting (disobeying the Book of Discipline) unjust and exclusionary rules for decades. This is not new. What has changed is that this past February, a special General Conference was called to decide once and for all what kind of denomination we would be. The Traditional Plan, with its more severe consequences for violating the rules, passed. (For more specific information about what this means, follow this link:
We will not be able, nor would we choose to, remain a part of this exclusive, ramped-up punishment-oriented, heavily policed, anti-christian, anti-interfaith, anti-justice, anti-people's-rights denomination. There are many, especially in the West, who will not be remaining in such a denomination. Others opposed to the Traditional Plan will remain until they are taken out, and others who will stay to fight another battle. All of these and many more, options are being considered by progressives and centrists.
So, as the denomination splits, there are many questions to answer. These questions cannot be answered in a quick sound bite or in a way that doesn't lead to more questions. So, this past Sunday I shared some of what is happening in the UMC, and there was a time for questions and some discussion. The United Methodist Church is on a wild ride, but we are actively making plans. What I can tell you that I am confident that this church is not going anywhere. Rest assured, the Church in Ocean Park is not going anywhere.
Though we have begun the discussion, you can join a town hall meeting later this month for input and questions.
If you are concerned, I encourage you to get some background. 2 major gatherings were held during the last couple of weeks that are very important, so I'll share their summary statements here. In addition, the delegation from our regional conference wrote a statement and 4th, there was an informative RMN (Reconciling Ministries Network) Zoom call that will add to the complexity.
5th, you are welcome to join a Zoom call this Saturday, coordinated by MFSA.
1. UMCNext (10 leaders from each conference) Concludes with 4 Commitments
2. Cal Pac delegation link (Response from our regional team to UMCNext)
3. UMForward Link (event/movement created & led by People of color & LGBTQIA+)
4. RMN (Churches who identify as LGBTQIA+ friendly) Zoom Call
5. You are invited to the next Zoom Call, coordinated by Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA) this Saturday, June 1st from 9 to 10 am. The info from them:
Trying to track all the developments while looking to the future? Join Special General Conference delegate Sandy Olewine, MFSA and other leaders as we break down the results of Special General Conference, the series of national meetings (sanctioned and unsanctioned) that have happened since, and join into conversation and reflection about what is next as we prepare for Cal Pac Annual Conference. This webinar can be participated in by computer/ video chat, or by phone.
Join Zoom Meeting by computer/ video chat:
Join the meeting by phone
+1 669 900 6833
Meeting ID: 323 761 0797
Yes, it would be simpler if progressives were all on the same page so we could put energy towards one path. But, when does that happen? But I'm certain that Progressives can walk several paths at the same time. Paths will break open at different times, and people will move in those directions. We will be prepared for various scenarios. I personally will listen to the people on the margins, including people of color, people with disabilities, young women and LGBTQIA+ folks. I will also be listening to the people connected to the Church in Ocean Park. As we go forward, YOU are invited to join us at any time in the process. Conversations and updates will occur on Sunday mornings and at a series of Town Hall meetings. I hope you can be a part of these conversations and an integral part of the future of the Church in Ocean Park. We need your voice as we prepare for and help create the new thing that is about to emerge. Town Hall Meetings will be ongoing. The first 2 are as follows:
1st Town Hall
What's Happening in the UMC: Update and Discussion
(Other United Methodist Churches will be invited)
Sunday, June 30th 2 - 4pm at The Church in Ocean Park
2nd Town Hall
Where do WE go from Here?
Specifically for the Church in Ocean Park
Sunday, July 14th 1 to 3pm at the Church in Ocean Park
Rev. Janet Gollery McKeithen