A message from Pastor Rick

Grace Church and the Future of the UMC

In an August article entitled, The Center Cannot Hold, pastor Cabe Matthews of Montgomery UMC in Montgomery, Texas, writes:

The United Methodist Church is dividing. Amid a flurry of opinions and information of wildly varying quality, a group loosely identified as ‘traditionalist’ is making its way to the exit — most often into the Global Methodist Church — while those planning on remaining do their best to try to plug up the denominational leak.

Of course the headline issue is that of human sexuality: should the church maintain the classical understanding of Christianity … on same-gender sexual relationships, or is this traditional view now properly understood as retrograde, oppressive, and offensive?

Meanwhile, many traditionalists insist that matters of human sexuality are not their primary concern. Instead, they often suggest that orthodox Christian doctrine is what is at stake. The post-separation UMC, some claim, will not only be progressive in its sexual ethic, it will quickly abandon classical Christian teachings like the virgin birth, the atoning death of Christ, the Trinity, or the bodily resurrection of Christ. …

On the other side there are a number of self-identified centrist pastors and leaders who advocate staying in The United Methodist Church and claim to be entirely orthodox. These women and men are skeptical of the danger of progressive theology, arguing that the post-separation UMC will not change one iota on its official doctrine. While many of them personally hope to be fully inclusive in their own churches and pastoral practices (and they all promote a big-tent, agree-to-disagree approach to human sexuality), otherwise they claim to be orthodox in their doctrine all the way down the line. And they claim to represent the mainstream of The United Methodist Church.

Our Grace Church Leadership Council has been meeting and discussing these matters over the past two years, and we held a Town Hall in July 2022 wherein we committed ourselves to a season of prayer and fasting to discern what our Father is calling us to do as the denomination is dividing. General Conference is not meeting until the spring of 2024, and the process for congregations seeking to disaffiliate from the UMC is coming to an end in December 2023. We have much to discuss as a church family about our future, whether we believe it is best to remain in the UMC as it undergoes changes or else to depart and either join another Methodist denomination (e.g., The Free Methodist Church, The Global Methodist Church, or some other) or to declare independence from denominations altogether. One thing is clear—this is a great church family, one that has learned to grow in our love for God and for our neighbors, and we are changing the world. We do not intend to move from that commitment. Our guiding principle is to ask which decision will best support the vision and mission of Grace Church.

We are holding a Town Hall meeting Wednesday, January 18, 2023 at 6:30pm to discuss these matters and report on what each of us is sensing our Father would have us do. In preparation, we are providing a number of helpful articles, web links and video resources from different groups representing different viewpoints with which to familiarize ourselves. You can access them here.

We are committed as a church family to prayer about the best decision forward as we study the many dynamics causing us to determine our course of action. The United Methodist Church is one expression of Methodism, and to consider choosing to leave the denomination is not the same as choosing to no longer be Methodists. Likewise, to choose to continue as United Methodists is not to be more committed to the denomination than we are to our Lord. Let’s move forward respecting the views and desires of each other in a spirit of love as we come together to discuss the best path for Grace Church into our future.

Grateful to be in Ministry with You,
Rick Thompson

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Articles from People Need Jesus website

Articles from Firebrand website

Video Resources

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