In a Special Conference held this week, the United Methodist Church voted to uphold restrictions on same-sex marriage and ordination of LGBTQ clergy. The Rev. Brooks Cato, rector of St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church in Hamilton and president of the Standing Committee of our Diocese, offered his congregation a reflection and a resource for Episcopalians who want to support our United Methodist neighbors. We reprint it in full here.
Hello, good people of St. Thomas’!
Thanks be to God, I don’t have cause to send messages like this out with great frequency. It is with a heavy heart that I write this morning. Last night, news broke that the United Methodist Church’s Special Conference voted to pursue what has been called the “Traditional Plan” in response to the ordination of LGBTQIA clergy and same-sex marriage. The Traditional Plan passed with 53% of the vote. As you might imagine, this leaves a considerable portion—nearly half—of the UMC deeply saddened, angered, and disappointed.
I spent more time than I should’ve watching responses to the UMC’s Special Conference unfold on Twitter last night, and I was saddened to see just how many Episcopalians in that forum leapt at the misfortune of our siblings in Christ. It’s a fine line between reaffirming welcome to those who are rejected and denominational schadenfreude.
It would not surprise me if we were to see a few Methodists find their ways into our pews over the next few weeks. While I pray they will find welcome, love, and sensitivity, I do not rejoice in the pain that pushes them away from their church home. We can be a home for the wounded, as long as that home is needed, but to do so well, we’ll need to tread lightly and love greatly.
I encourage all y’all to give this article a read before Sunday, and keep in mind the incredible complexity each one of us brings with us every time we pass through our big red doors. That space is for the wounded, and we offer it from our own place of woundedness.
With Christ’s love,