May 1, 2024

We wanted to drop by with an update about General Conference. With two days remaining, the Conference has been fast moving and dynamic. It appears possible that sweeping changes are coming to the UMC around marriage, ordination, and our overall structure. Just this morning the Conference made changes removing the language prohibiting ‘self avowed practicing’ gay clergy. Thus a candidate’s sexual orientation and marital status does not immediately disqualify them from ministry. This opens the door for the ordination of married gay clergy. [Quick reminder: We have always allowed for the ordination of gay clergy who are single and celibate.] These changes are well ahead of the timetable we initially thought possible. Our Administrative Council was updated last night by Chad Foster, our Andover Pastor, and we wanted to share that portion of the meeting on video below.

Please remember that things are not set in stone. Even as you read this email things have probably changed. This update is more of a heads-up that change may be coming than a detailed accounting of those changes.

Administrative Council is set to met again next Tuesday and begin processing what the potential changes mean for us as a local UMC congregation. Reminder that we have already decided last year to remain United Methodist. What is at hand is how we go about aligning with the Book of Discipline if it changes. While we cannot control the speed at which the changes are coming out of General Conference, we will not be rushed in our implementing them at First Church. We have many conversations ahead of us as a congregation.

As always, if you’re curious about where First UMC stands theologically on several of these matters, please refer to our theological statement here. Feel free to reach out with any questions to anyone on the pastoral team. Stay tuned in the days ahead for more news.

Pastoral Lead Team

Todd Nelson, Senior Pastor
Carol Cooper, Downtown Pastor
Jennifer Gibson, Church Administrator
Chad Foster, Andover Pastor
Taylor Zimmerman, Offerings Pastor