A Statement to the Congregation
When we gather for communion, we take comfort in these words: Christ our Lord invites to His table all who love Him, who earnestly repent of their sin and seek to live in peace with one another.
These words go to the heart of the debate around human sexuality that has challenged many denominations, including our own.
To discern the path for St. Matthews, your leadership, working through the cross-campus shepherding team and with our pastors, set up holy conversations in small groups to hear from everyone. The goal was to explore all options, explain the process of disaffiliation from the United Methodist denomination, and to hear from you.
Two themes stood out: We are a loving congregation confronting a difficult situation in a mature way. Second, there were questions and concerns, but no clear push to leave the United Methodist Church.
The congregation’s message was clear from the beginning. While we could have used time and energy for surveys, consultants and even a vote, church leaders decided to direct those resources to put more momentum into our ministry.
Frankly, there was an awareness that a disaffiliation vote would not change our course but would create anxiety and even division. You may want to know that other large United Methodist Churches in our area reached that same conclusion.
Thus, the cross-campus shepherding team and the administrative board have resolved unanimously to remain in the United Methodist Church.
Our opportunity is to remain who we are – a congregation that has always had differing backgrounds and opinions – and the will to find common ground and work together.
The Council of Bishops and our St. Matthews UMC clergy have encouraged us to stay unified -- to reclaim, revive and renew our ministry.
The task, as John Wesley would put it, remains to do all the good we can, by all the means we can, in all the ways we can, in all the places we can, at all the times we can, to all the people we can, as long as ever we can.
Are we able to remain true to that heritage and move forward as people who love the Lord, who earnestly repent and seek to live in peace?
With your help, Lord, we answer: “Yes, we can.”
Cross Campus Shepherding Team
Dennis Shaw, John Stokes, Karen Fenton, Sean Deskins, Courtney Kellner, Paul Powell, Raiko Ruz, Yoel Escriba
Marcus Norton, Chairperson, Juanita Blakeman, Lisa Martin, Charlie Stevens,
Dennis Shaw, Stacie Leonard, Connie Mele, Sean Deskins, John Dickinson, Gary Stuart, John Ford, Tom Jones, Carolyn Childress, Cordell Lawrence
Also included in this packet:
Appendix I: St. Matthews UMC Discernment Process
Appendix II: Statement from Bishop Leonard Fairley, Kentucky Annual Conference
Appendix III: Statement from the Clergy of St. Matthews United Methodist Church