Dear Hyde Park Family,
Happy Valentine’s Day! On this day when we celebrate human love, I invite you to take some time to remember with prayerful love our United Methodist Church, as it prepares for an important gathering in about ten days.
From Feb. 23-26, 862 delegates from throughout the global denomination will be working to find unity in the nearly fifty-year old debate over same-sex weddings and the ordination of LGBTQ persons.
You might choose to read the full statement I have written to orient you to the debate and offer my theological reflections on how God can help us through the stalemate this denomination finds itself in. It also contains links to many resources, including those by our own Bishop Carter, for you to learn about what is at stake. Hyde Park’s Rev. Vicki Walker will be among the Florida delegation as an alternate delegate, and we pray for all our delegations and presiding bishops as they do this tense but holy work.
This all coincides with this Sunday’s worship services, where we will spend time on the third area of focus of our Vision Plan: Unite. We will hear Paul’s challenge to the Ephesian church to “preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” and seek ways to model for a divided world how we might be at peace with one another, while seeking justice for the oppressed and preserving our traditions.
I invite you to pray for the upcoming General Conference over the next several days, perhaps using this prayer as your guide. Again, a fuller theological reflection of the basis for the prayer is found in the link above:
A PRAYER FOR THE SPECIAL GENERAL CONFERENCE
Holy Triune God, in whom there is no distinction or division,
We come to you in a time of great debate and discernment in our denomination, acknowledging our brokenness and longing for your Spirit. We have constructed systems of winners and losers, with the result of dehumanizing one another.
Free us from such constricted thinking, and open us up to the mystery of the Trinity, which models a way forward past our limitations. Help us find a way to seek justice and equality for gay and lesbian persons, to affirm our covenantal bonds with one another and to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
We pray for the work of the special General Conference. Grant wisdom to our delegates in balancing behavior, belief and belonging. May the work of justice be done with kindness and motivated out of humility, reminding us that we all need one another for the work of the kingdom.
Empower them to be at peace with one another as they listen, speak and discern. Bless the bishops as they preside over the proceedings. Soften those who are cynical, empower the fearful and enable the General Conference to seek and claim the exciting future you desire of the United Methodist Church.
Bless our congregation, reminding us of the holy work to which you have called us, to Make Your Love Real by loving you and loving all people. Rekindle in us a deeper commitment to Christ and a firmer grounding in the scriptures, that we might be open to all persons and perspectives, no matter what happens in St. Louis.
We entrust our future into your hands, O great God, Three-in-One. We choose the way of justice, kindness and humility. We choose not to fear. We choose power, love and sound minds. And we choose right beliefs, loving practices, and holy unity throughout your church.
In the name of Jesus Christ,
The Rev. Magrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist