[This shirt was worn by one of our church members on Sunday. It was this person’s way of protesting last week’s special UMC General Conference decision that will unfortunately continue our denomination’s stance against same-sex weddings and the ordination of those who are gay and non-celibate. The phrase “love is love” reminds us of our own church’s diversity/welcome statement that says, “We welcome all persons regardless of sexual orientation.” The pastoral prayer is a prayer of confession for the harm that was done by General Conference toward the LGBTQ community. For the sermon which also focuses on last week’s General Conference, click here.]
O God, we have heavy hearts today. We have seen our denomination’s cross and flame logo on every major news network this past week…
…not for how we respond quickly to natural disasters with relief aid, and not for how we serve the least, the last, and the lost, and not for our many hospitals, colleges, and churches that are bringing transformation to our communities and world. We were in the news this past week because our denomination was unable to agree to disagree over issues related to human sexuality.
The whole world watched our spiritual dysfunctionality in full display. It was painful to watch especially since our Wesleyan heritage has taught us that personal holiness and social justice for all people should never be mutually exclusive. They belong together and they always have belonged together. O God, we somehow missed an opportunity to find a way forward at this past week’s General Conference.
And so, hear our confession that we have not only caused harm to each other as a denomination, but we have also caused harm to those who feel unwelcomed and excluded from the United Methodist Church. Forgive us, O God and renew a right spirit within us.
We pray in confidence, not because we know what the future holds for our denomination, but in knowing that you are a God who is more than able to make all things new, beginning even now as we pray the prayer Jesus taught us to say together,
“Our Father, who art in heaven…”