From the Pastor's Desk

Dear Friends

 

Greetings in the name of Jesus!  Annual Conference took place from June 2-4 in Erie.  Thank you to Keith and Jen Vulhop for serving as our lay members to Annual Conference this year!  There were many highlights including the fact that I have been reappointed to Bakerstown and we will start our fifth year together on July 1st.  You can find a complete report at www.wpaumc.org

 

I do want to bring to your attention two important things that occurred at this year’s conference.  First, the election of candidates for the episcopacy was held during the opening session.   Rev. Alyce Weaver Dunn and Rev. Bob Zilhaver were elected.  They will be sent on to the Jurisdictional Conference in November.  This meeting for the northeastern part of our country will determine if there will be any bishops elected and how many.  While it is very early in this process, please join me in praying for God’s will to be done in the life of our church.

 

The second is a piece of legislation passed called the Actively Waiting Task Force Petition for an Intentional Missional Alignment Process. This resolution calls for establishment of “three households” within the Western PA Annual Conference:

 

The Continuing United Methodist Household will be available to those who aspire to be working in the mission field with members of differing perspectives on human sexuality. This household aspires to remove sexual orientation as a consideration for fitness for ministry; allow each clergy person to discern if they will or will not officiate for same gender marriages; allow local churches to independently decide whether to host same gender marriages or not; and invite the bishop to use these considerations when making appointments.

 

The Traditional Household will be available to those who aspire to be working in the mission field only with members having a more traditional perspective on human sexuality. Therefore, this Household would aspire to maintain ordination standards pertaining to human sexuality, including prohibition of homosexual practice, and prohibit all clergy and churches from celebrating same-gender marriages.

 

The Progressive Household will be available to those who aspire to be working in the mission field only with members who have a progressive perspective on human sexuality. Therefore, this household would aspire to have the full inclusion of, full affirmation of, and full participation by all people in all aspects of the life of this household and in the lives of its churches, including the ordination and appointment of persons without respect to their sexual orientation or gender identity. Additionally, it would have the celebration of same-gender marriages by all clergy and in all churches in this household.

 

The legislation also designates phases as elements of the Intentional Missional Alignment Process.  There will be detailed processes to assist local churches, laity, and clergy as they move into households within the WPA Conference or potentially make decisions to become a part of other Methodist expressions. It will designate functions which will specifically need to be active throughout the Intentional Missional Alignment Process.  An IMAP Task Force will be formed to lead, plan, coordinate, and manage aspects over the next few years (Source: wpaumc.org/ Annual Conference Wrap-Up).

 

We have much to think, discuss and pray about in the coming months!  I hope that you will join me in that process as we continue to serve Christ together.

 

Blessings,

Pastor Keith