This month’s newsletter is out. We hope you enjoy some of our special memories of Muriel Race in this edition — we know many of you will have your own, as well. She was a warm, welcoming and gracious lady and we will miss her.
Our February Evangel is out. Check out Pastor Dana’s blog that was featured in “Pretty Southern”, our Lenten and Holy Week Schedules, a message from Bishop Sue, as well as the latest edition of Our Trinity Stories featuring the Harbin/Worrall family and so much more. Happy Reading!
Pastor Dana was featured as a guest blogger in “Pretty Southern” talking about last week’s General Conference and were we go from here.
Dear Friends in Christ,
If you expected something from me last night about General Conference, rest assured that it was wise to let myself breathe and possibly allow you to as well. I, like many of you, have experienced all the emotions associated with grief…denial, despair, anger. Oh so much anger!
I am not going to go into too many details about the conference decisions today and an analysis of that. That will be in the pastor’s article in the next Evangel which will be coming out soon. However, here I want simply to say a few things.
First and foremost, I say to my LGBTQ+ siblings that I am sorry. I am sorry that The UMC, the church in which I have been ordained, the church from which I make my living and live out my vocation, has hurt you so and has acted in ways so contrary to the Gospel. I ask for forgiveness for my complicity in that hurt.
I know that so many of you are disappointed, if not surprised, by the outcome of the conference. I know that many of you are so tired of this. I see you whether you are LGBTQ+ or an ally, and I see your pain, fatigue, and frustration. It’s natural for us to ask “What now?” I have heard from several people, none from Trinity, reach out to me to ask what they should do now…mainly they are wondering if they should leave The UMC. I can’t answer that question for them. You may be asking yourself the same question. I can’t answer that question for you either. I do know I would grieve even more deeply if anyone decides on that course, but I would not begrudge anyone. I can listen and process with you. I encourage you to give yourself permission to rest, to let others love on you, to have all the feelings you have.
I also want to remind us all that God is still sovereign and that God is at work even in what we may see as darkness. I know that God is making a way for the inclusiveness of the kingdom in the church. I have seen signs of hope in that in so many places since the vote yesterday. The United Methodist Church is broken now, but as Vance Havner observes, “God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength.” And God knows just how broken The United Methodist Church is, and yet God can and will make a way.
So again, “What now?” I pray that in the coming days that we will continue to reflect that light of God’s love even in seeming darkness. I will show up on Sunday to preach the Gospel of grace and love for all. I’ll wear my rainbow stole. I will invite everyone to the table….EVERYONE! I hope that we as community will continue to reflect that light through a welcome of all and a commitment to God’s justice, no matter how slow it seems that it’s coming, despite our pain, our fatigue, and our frustration.
Thank you, Trinity UMC, for your witness all these years. As we sang last week, we shall overcome. We don’t know what that looks like now, but our faith tells us that we will.
In Christ's love,
Here is a very brief summary of what happened yesterday at General Conference:
—The One Church Plan that would have allowed contextual practices of inclusion was presented as a minority report was defeated in the morning.
—The Traditional Plan which affirms the current language in the Discipline and seeks stronger punitive measures for violating it passed by 54 votes. It had already been deemed by the Judicial Council to be largely unconstitutional. It passed anyway. It will be reviewed by the Judicial Council in the form that was passed and will likely never be implemented.
—Shortly before adjournment, the conference approved a disaffiliation (exit) plan for congregations wishing to leave the connection.
—There were serious allegations of bribery made against some US conservative caucus groups that were referred to the ethics committee. I have no idea what will come of that.
BECAUSE GOD DOESN’T LEAVE ANYONE OUT.
The day after Christmas stores started making way for the next holiday. The cards and heart-shaped boxes of Valentine’s Day replaced the tinsel and lights of Christmas. Valentine’s Day is a tricky day for a lot of people. It can intensify feelings of loneliness in folks who are un-coupled or just generally isolated. And, of course, like so many of our other holidays, it has been commercialized and exploited for companies, like florists, candy makers, and Hallmark, to make money. I have my own issues with Valentine’s Day for several reasons, big ones and little ones. I lost a very good friend on Valentine’s Day eight years ago, and we all know anniversaries are hard. I also get aggravated by the choices of boxed valentines for kids. A couple of years ago, I was trying to get valentines cards for kids in a Sunday School class, and they were all gendered. You could either get ones that were pink with princesses on it or ones that were red with trucks on it. Nothing gender neutral at all.
Maybe you have reasons to love and hate the holiday, but I can rarely spend a Valentine’s Day without thinking of a lesson I learned in elementary school. It was first grade, I think, and we were planning for our class Valentine’s Day party. There would be candy and punch and games. And there would be valentines for every student. We were required to get the small valentines for everybody in the class. I remember vividly that I was uncomfortable with that. Part of it was that I was still at the age where I thought boys had cooties. A big part of it was that I didn’t want to give a card to one particular boy. This was the kid in class that always acted out. Not only was he disruptive, he also did really gross things…like eat paste and chalk. We probably all remember that kid. And maybe, some of us were that kid.
I was reluctant to give him a card. But I remember my mom telling me that I had to give everyone in the class one…that I couldn’t leave anyone out. So every Valentine’s Day, even as I struggle with my own grief and rail against the commercialism, I remember that lesson.
I couldn’t leave anyone out.
As I’ve grown and learned more about Jesus, I realize that was a lesson in discipleship. It obviously stuck with me through the years. I still remember the boy’s name. I still remember what he looked like. And even if I was uncomfortable with him, I couldn’t leave him out. Jesus didn’t leave anybody out.
As another Valentine’s Day approaches, I reflect on who is left out. No one is left out in God’s eyes, but our world doesn’t always look like the world as God intended. We fall short, and we leave lots of people out. I think about the ways that the church leaves people out. We do it in small and large ways. In small ways, we don’t always extend a warm welcome to guests who do come through our doors. In large ways, the church leaves whole groups of people out, because some lobbying group decided that the way God made them disqualified them from church service. Our denomination is on the verge of splitting over the issue of leaving people out.
Looking back at that kid from my first grade class, I now realize that he probably had some issues that I didn’t have. I don’t know what his family situation was, but now I think they probably didn’t have a lot of money. His behavior made him the object of teasing and alienation. I have a feeling the kids were laughing at him, not with him. I can’t imagine what life was like for him, but I think if there was anybody that needed to be included and get a Valentine, it was this kid.
What are you doing to make those that are left out feel included? What can the church do to make those that are left out feel included?
The scripture teaches us that God’s love is for everyone; no one is left out. It’s available to all of us. I pray that we are living into that love and making sure that no one is left out. And I ask you to pray as well. I ask that you pray for our called Special General Conference that our church, the Body of Christ, have open hearts to the movement of the Spirit and ensure that everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, is included in our church. Pray that our church won’t leave anyone out. Because God doesn’t leave anyone out.
Pastor Dana Ezell
Our January Evangel is out. Pastor Dana has a great blog about Valentine’s Day and there some updates on the goings on at the church as well as come upcoming events. Plus we have 2 videos this month from Our Trinity Stories video series. Happy Reading!
Our December newsletter is out! We decided to end with a year-in-review and take a look back at all the wonderful and exciting (and hard) things that happened at Trinity over the last year. In addition to the new baby, the wedding, new members, etc., Pastor Dana highlights all the wonderful ways in which Trinity and its members have grown the kingdom in the last year. Finally, there are also a couple of pages that talk about the Special Session of General Conference that is coming up in February. Take a look and pass it on to others who might be interested. Until next month!
Our September/October newsletter has arrived -- Thank you for your patience and our apologies we didn't get one out last month. It's been a busy couple of months for Trinity as you'll see from the newsletter! Until next month!
Our August newsletter is here! Check out Trinity's big announcement in the Pastor's Blog, the exciting update about Trinity Community Ministries, all the events coming up this fall and a Baby Announcement! Happy Reading!
Our May edition of the Trinity Evangel is out! There is a great blog from our Pastor about borders and her time at the Borderland in May, lots of updates on our members and even a baby shower!