Recently there have been multiple times I've found myself telling a group of folks how proud I am of St. Barnabas United Methodist Church and her people. We are a great and diverse congregation. Often, if there is a gathering of six people, there will be seven opinions present -- and that's a good thing! At St. Barnabas, it is a wonderful thing because those people are comfortable in sharing their opinions, but they do not share with rancor. Folks around here tend listen to each other with respect.
On Sunday, December 2, from 2:30 to 4:15 p.m., we will have a formal opportunity to put that respect into practice.
We have sent out multiple pieces of communication regarding the current conversation within the United Methodist Church regarding GLBTQ+ concerns as we head toward the Called General Conference of February 2019. We are setting aside the afternoon of December 2 to gather as a congregation around tables. We will be in diverse groups. We are especially asking our youth and Journey folk to make every effort to be present. The purpose of this afternoon is to listen to each other, to share our common hopes and dreams. The purpose of the day is not to take a side or to put any perspective down but to share hearts. Unlike the world around us, we come to listen to each other and to treat one another with dignity and respect.
Rev. Jason Valendy is from Saginaw United Methodist Church where he and his wife, Estee, are co-pastors. Rev. Jason is also a part of our elected leadership to General Conference. Rev. Jason will be with us on December 2 to help walk us through a video presentation, to facilitate two questions to discuss at our tables and, third, to take the opportunity to write one question per table to be presented to a panel group for response. We will have some great refreshments, hear the responses from the panel and then go home. We have asked Dr. Luther Henry to come back for this conversation as well, and he has agreed.
There are several folks who are being asked to be trained as discussion leaders at tables. That training will take place from about 1:50-2:20 p.m. the same day in the Sanctuary.
We invite you to make this very, very important conversation in the life of our church a priority on your schedule. St. Barnabas is a congregation whose people have a wide variety of theological perspectives - that is part of the very core strength that makes us who we are! And, we are able to work together for the Kingdom of God, right here, right now. We are diverse in perspective and unified in mission and ministry! We have been since the very beginnings of this congregation as a Presbyterian/Methodist church. Will you come and join us as we continue to move forward together?
It is a blessing to be your pastor! I love this church and am very, very proud to be a part of you!
Rev. Virginia O. (Ginger) Bassford, PhD