Dear St. Mary’s Family,
Yesterday, the United Methodist Church voted to strengthen its ban on gay, lesbian, and trans clergy and same-sex marriages. As the UMC is the second largest Protestant denomination in the United States, many of us have friends and family who are directly affected by this decision. I can think of many of our own parishioners who were Methodist for many years.
One of my college roommates is on the faculty at a United Methodist seminary. He said to me last night, “I’m horrified at our church’s witness. We are aghast. Many students are asking us whether to leave or stay. God have mercy.” It is not an over-exaggeration to state that a deep and ugly church split is imminent.
Grief. Pain. Betrayal. I cannot imagine the range of emotions our Methodist cousins are feeling right now.
What can we do? First and most importantly, we should pray for our Methodist friends and family. Second, we must continue to extend Christ’s love to everyone, no matter their race or sexual orientation or gender identity. And lastly, we can humbly invite those who are hurting to worship with a welcoming and loving church family here at St. Mary’s.
But we must be careful, lest our extended hand of welcome be perceived as an accidental strike of abuse. Many Methodists might hear "The Episcopal Church Welcomes You" as a grieving widow would hear "I know someone you might like." And we certainly shouldn't use their ecclesiastical dysfunction as an opportunity for recruiting. The UMC belongs to its LGBT members as much as it belongs to its traditionalist members. Some will leave, many will stay. We must listen and give our Methodist cousins time to grieve. But we at St. Mary's can and should welcome those seeking refuge from this storm, even if it's for a time.
We will offer prayers of healing for our Methodist brethren and for all who are hurt by this decision tonight at 6:00 p.m. at St. Mary’s. All are welcome. You are invited to come and find solace and healing as we celebrate the great feast that unites us with Our Lord – the foretaste of that heavenly banquet where there is neither sorrow nor crying, but the fullness of joy.
Fr. Charles Everson's love for music and liturgy led him to a suburban parish as a simple chorister, and as of late, to St. Mary's as a priest. He feels called to share the love of Jesus Christ with a broken world in desperate need of hope and reconciliation.