Grace and peace to you. I greet you in the name and with the love of Jesus Christ.
In preparation for the 2019 Special Called Session of the General Conference, the Commission on a Way Forward worked with great integrity and faith. As an annual conference we prayed for the work of the delegates. The delegates have now completed their work. They voted to affirm our traditional stance on the role of practicing homosexuals in the life of the church.
I acknowledge that in our annual conference some will be satisfied, some affirmed, some delighted, some frustrated, some hurt, some harmed, and some deeply saddened by the work that was done. I acknowledge the hurt and pain in the community of faithful LGBTQIA United Methodists and those who advocate for them. Know that God is able to hold us together in the midst of our diverse emotions. After all, we serve a God who is able to bring us to a place of simultaneously grieving and having joy - of simultaneously feeling despair and having hope. And so, in all things and at all times, we give God thanks and praise!
At the end of our three days of conferencing I remain confident that God is not yet through with the United Methodist Church. There is more mission and ministry that needs to be accomplished through the people called United Methodist. I also remain Godly proud of the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference. If you were watching through the livestream you know that several members of our delegation spoke on the floor. As a delegation they were, with respect and love, able to demonstrate the diversity and complexity of United Methodist opinions about the role of practicing homosexuals in the life of the church. I believe God was glorified by the witness of our delegation as they spoke their different opinions and called for points of order on the floor of general conference.
We have scheduled debriefing meetings in each of our districts to share information about the experience of the special called session, legislation that was passed, and next steps as that legislation is enacted. At those meetings we will also give you an opportunity to ask questions, respond to the actions of the special called session and dream about how we might continue with our mission in light of the decisions made. I invite you to come to any one of those sessions as your schedule allows.
Finally, I want to invite you to continue to pray for our delegation. They will share at the debriefing meetings some stories about their own spiritual and emotional journey while in St. Louis. It was a deeply emotional time for all. Our emotions were more deeply impacted by receiving the news that Faith Geer, a member of our delegation who was not able to travel with us, passed away during the session. Please lift Faith’s family, church family and friends in prayer.