February 22, 2019—The lead staff of Asbury Church are in earnest prayer this week for a Special Called General Conference of the United Methodist Church which will be held in St. Louis, Feb. 23-26.
Our global church has become deeply divided over issues of human sexuality, rooted in widely differing approaches to the interpretation of scripture, the values of our shared traditions, and the meaning of the covenant that connects us together. As a result it seems inevitable that any decision made by the General Conference will profoundly impact the future of our denomination. This division causes great pain which grieves us deeply, but we also have great hope that the best days are still ahead for Asbury and for the Methodist movement worldwide, regardless of the outcome.
During the days ahead, we remind Asbury members that, whatever you may hear reported in the media, only the General Conference as a whole can speak for the United Methodist Church. Several plans have been presented for General Conference to consider as A Way Forward, but all of these plans are subject to change. Thus, it would be premature to make any statements about how Asbury will respond until the final decisions are made. We encourage you to be patient with the process, keep your trust in the Lord, and pray continually for God’s will to be done.
Our Bishop will also provide a post-conference report on Sunday, March 3 and we will have representatives at that briefing. Asbury’s governing body, The Leadership Board, will meet on March 18 to consider any action that might need to be taken by Asbury in response to the decisions made by the General Conference. Any action our leaders take would be a process that may ultimately involve participation of the whole church. Our hope is that we would not need to take any action at all, but we are prepared to respond as needed.
Asbury Church has been a part of the global Methodist movement since its founding 1979. We have seen much fruitful ministry through the United Methodist Church. We are proud of our connection to our sister UMC churches and the many great Methodist-related institutions and missions agencies around the world. We have been steadfast supporters of this global church under the guidance of our Bishops and our General Conference.
Asbury is committed to remaining faithful to our core Methodist beliefs, based on growing Biblically, giving generously, serving compassionately, connecting authentically, welcoming unconditionally, and supporting family. Our prayer is that this identity will continue to be reflected in the UMC as well. Now as always our priority remains fulfilling the mission of our church to make disciples of Jesus Christ by engaging people in relationships where Christ transforms.
Links about the UMC General Conference: