From Pastor Ellen's Heart:
One of my favorite stories in the Gospels is found in Mark 4:35-41. Let’s remember those words together:
“On that day, when evening had come, He said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side.’ And leaving the crowd behind, they took Him with them in the boat, just as He was. Other boats were with Him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But He was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be Still!’ Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?’ And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?’”
In recent months, I confess that I have felt some anxiety over the storm that is brewing in the United Methodist denomination. It makes me sad to see the church mirroring the division in our culture. Aren’t disciples supposed to be “in the world but not of the world?” (John 17). How is it that we get so absorbed into the divisions of the world, that we bring it into our beloved denomination?
I have described this United Methodist situation to many by saying that the pot has been on the stove brewing for some time (years, really), but now the lid has been laid on the pot and it’s no longer simmering; it’s about to boil over. Another analogy might be that we are in the middle of a denominational divorce. Though it is a gross oversimplification, the essential divides are centered around issues of human sexuality. Sadly, each United Methodist Church will be asked to take a vote on some more specific issues, probably before the end of 2022.
This is a crucial and important issue that is before us. For that reason, I want to sit down and visit with you in small groups to pray about this, discuss more specific details and learn from you, what your desires might be in the future of our church family. We will do that in small cottage meetings, beginning in the next few weeks. As Melody Pauling and Luan Watkins organize the new congregational care groups, I want to sit down with each group and share what I know and most importantly, hear how you feel about the storm that is brewing. Stay tuned. More information will be forthcoming very soon.
When I get nervous as I have been in recent months, I need to remember that our Savior didn’t get out of the boat when the storm arose in Mark 4. He did just the opposite – he relaxed and fell asleep, knowing that God was still on the throne and would watch over them. Friends, I believe that is the case now. Jesus is still in the boat and even with this denominational storm, He is asleep in the stern. “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?” He is the One, who in these uncertain days, holds us all in the palm of His hand! Thanks be to God!
P.S. A special THANK YOU to Mary McClanahan for sharing this very helpful video with good objective explanations of what is happening in our denomination right now. Bishop Scott Jones is the current bishop of the Texas Annual Conference (Houston area).