Appendix III: Statement from the Clergy of St. Matthews UMC
Dear St. Matthews UMC Family,
The current upheaval in the United Methodist Church has been a difficult and sometimes painful conversation and discernment process for all those who call themselves Methodist. It’s been a unique and painful challenge for clergy as well.
For pastors in our connection, this is something that has loomed on the horizon for many years. Difficult and painful conversations have been had with our families, our friends, our colleagues, and our church members. We have known that we would ultimately be asked to make a decision of our own, and we hope you can understand the need for our discernment to be made separately from the work of St Matthews UMC. We have talked at length about our commitment to the church, to this conference, and the deep sorrow we have felt in this tumultuous season in our ministry.
We have each taken vows at baptism, at confirmation, and at ordination. We were asked if we would be loyal to the United Methodist Church, do all in our power to strengthen its ministries, and entered into a covenant with the conference to serve the kingdom of God as United Methodist clergy in Kentucky.
We love the United Methodist Church. We love our Wesleyan heritage, we love our open table, we love our understanding of the grace of a God who loves humanity more thoroughly than we can fathom, we love the diversity of the church, and our worldwide witness as a denomination.
Unity among great diversity is not easy, but it is who we are called to be as the body of Christ in the world. We do not desire a church where everyone is exactly alike and where we all share the same opinions and convictions. Spaces where we can come together in loving communion and fellowship together, and wrestle faithfully with big questions are hard to find. In a world that is so polarized and driven to the extremes, we believe our unity in diversity is perhaps one of the greatest witnesses we have to offer the world.
This will not be the last conflict we are asked to navigate together. But our hope is that we can, indeed, navigate the challenges to come together. Regardless of the issue at hand or the differences of opinion within our congregation, we want to affirm unequivocally that it is our desire to be pastoral leaders in the lives of our entire church family. In our relationships together, our prayer is that differences of opinion do not mean differences in love or care.
Therefore, we are committed to our covenant to be United Methodist clergy and remain in union with the Church which Christ has opened to people of all ages, nations, and races.
Rev. Adam Sparks, Senior Pastor
Rev. Renee Jennings, Associate Pastor and River City campus pastor
Pastor Maikel Rojas, Assistant Pastor and Tabernaculo de Avivamiento Pastor.