Town Hall Meeting: March 10, 2019

The General Conference may have come to a close but many questions and fears linger. That's why it was so important for us to gather as a church family to discuss what happened at General Conference and where to go from here. To that end we held two town hall meetings on Sunday, March 10, in Fellowship Hall. If you were unable to attend, you can review the slides here.

If you have any questions or concerns, you can share them anonymously using the contact form at the bottom of this page.

Video of the March 10, 2019 Town Hall Presentation

A Lesson on Apportionments

In light of the vote at General Conference, some churches have started withholding apportionments. Before we make any decision on apportionments, we wanted to make sure everyone understands what apportionments are.

That's why the Church Council asked pastor Katy and our Financial Administrator, Angie Bragg, to provide a brief explanation which we recorded to share with all church members.

Questions Received During the March Town Hall Meeting

Below you will find a list of all of the questions received from the congregation - either handed in during one of the town hall meetings or submitted via the online feedback form at the bottom of this page. In order to be fully transparent, questions have not been edited and are displayed the way we received them. We will answer all of these questions as soon as possible. We will also publish answers in the Cornerstone Newsletter. If you are not yet signed up for our newsletter, please fill out this short form and we'll start sending that to you.

There are a lot of questions and few answers right now. As we figure out where to go from here, we promise to keep you informed!

Questions Related to Clergy

You can read the pastors' position in the top section of this webpage or find it in this pastoral letter sent out to the congregation on February 27th.
If a pastor were caught performing a same-sex marriage, s/he would incur a one-year unpaid suspension. If s/he were caught performing a same-sex marriage a second time, s/he would be defrocked. Rev. Adam Hamilton, senior pastor of the largest United Methodist church in the country, the Church of the Resurrection, discussed the penalties in detail in this video (cued up automatically). Jay Brim, one of the voting Delegates to the General Conference, also briefly addressed the penalties for pastors during the town hall meeting (the video will cue up automatically).
This is another question that Jay Brim addressed during the town hall meeting. You can listen to his answer in this segment of the town hall meeting recording (the video will cue up automatically).
While the pastors speak for themselves and their own convictions, they do not speak for the church as a whole. While we do not yet know if there will be another Methodist denomination forming or some splinter within the UMC (or something else entirely), the congregation will make its own decision in the months to come. In the event that Oak Hill UMC and the pastors land in different places, then the pastors would move. It is also worth noting that our pastors are itinerant under our current system and could still be moved at any time.

Questions Related to Homosexuality

This is the question that lies at the heart of this argument. Our pastors do not believe homosexuality is a sin. Jay Brim and Pastor Katy addressed this question directly in this segment of the town hall recording (the video is cued up automatically). Pastor Katy also referred to Rev. Adam Hamilton's indepth discussion of this issue which you can listen to here (cued up automatically).
Please refer to the answer above for the first part of the question. As for the second part, here's a brief summary of the Presbyterian Church's stance on the issue , and of the Episcopal Church's position.

Episcopal Church: In 1976, both the House of Deputies and House of Bishops voted for a fully inclusive Episcopal Church, stating, “homosexual persons are children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance, and pastoral concern and care of the church.” Canon law includes “gender identity or expression” in its list of persons who are assured full access to the ministry of the church.

Presbyterian Church: In 2018, the 223rd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted to affirm its commitment to the full welcome, acceptance, and inclusion of transgender people, people who identify as gender non-binary, and people of all gender identities within the full life of the church and the world. It went further to lament "the ways that the policies and actions of the PC(USA) have caused gifted, faithful, LGBTQIA+ Christians to leave the Presbyterian church so that they could find a more welcoming place to serve, as they have been gifted and called by the Spirit.”
Even before this General Conference the UMC already officially banned “self-avowed practicing” gay clergy. That doesn't mean there are no openly gay UMC clergy though. In fact, the Western Jurisdictional Conference elected Rev. Karen Oliveto as the first openly lesbian United Methodist bishop back in 2016. The plan that was adopted at the Special Session of the General Conference in February wants to ensure this doesn't continue to happen and specifically removed loopholes which allowed the church to ordain LGBTQ candidates for ministry. Don Inbody explains these new restrictions in this part of the town hall meeting.

Questions Specifically Related to OHUMC

Earlier in April, the clergy met in San Antonio for our annual “Clergy Convocation.” Bishop Robert Schnase shared his thoughts with us in the wake of General Conference. He confessed that he did not know what the future holds, but he encouraged us to press on with the work of the kingdom. He acknowledged the pain and passion of groups in the church who are ready to jump ship and shared the following illustration:

There once was a professor at a medical college who was lecturing his students about a very intricate life or death surgery. He said, “Once you have cut open the site for surgery you will have only two minutes to get in and do what you must do before getting out and closing the incision.” He concluded, “Since you only have two minutes, it’s very important that you go slowly.”
When it comes to what the future holds, so much is unknown. We don’t know what the future holds for the United Methodist Church. We're not even sure what lies in store for Oak Hill UMC. The pain and division are deep. Something’s got to give, but we just don’t know what will. It’s likely that the United Methodist Church will become “untied.” Some kind of split is possible and even probable, but we don’t know how or when.

We understand the feelings of those who feel they must do something bold and significant. Whatever we do, let’s do it prayerfully and carefully. Let's think it through. Before jumping ship consider from where you are jumping and to where you will land.

Remember, we are not alone; God is with us. To borrow from the Taize liturgy, “All will be well, and all manner of things will be well.” We will make it through this.

Questions Related to the Vote at General Conference

Questions about Rev. Adam Hamilton

Adam Hamilton supported the One Church Plan. He has been very vocal on this issue. You can read his blog post here and watch a detailed hour-long discussion he had with his congregation.
Adam Hamilton is the senior pastor of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, where he preaches to more than 8,000 per week. He has written a number of books, some of which we have studied here at Oak Hill UMC. Our last sermon series was based on his book "Unafraid." For more info on Rev. Hamilton, please see his bio.
Here's what the Church of the Resurrection is planning on doing. We will keep you posted on what we decide to do.

Financial Questions 

A decision to withhold paying all, or a portion of our apportionments, would require a Church Council vote. So the body that would have to make this decision is the OHUMC Church Council. In order to help the Church Council better understand the complexity of this issue, Pastor Katy and Angie held a brief "Apportionments 101" session during the March 31, 2019 Church Council meeting. In this segment [automatically cued up], pastor Katy explains the process that would be required to make such a decision. As she explains in this part of the video, there is no direct penalty or consequence for withholding apportionments.
To learn more about apportionments, how much we are paying in apportionments each year, what ministries and programs they support and how we are paying them, and what our options are, please watch this 12 minute Church Council discussion.

Legal Questions 

The Judicial Council met in late April and upheld parts of the Traditional Plan and struck down other parts. The result is that a good portion of the plan that strengthens enforcement of church bans on same-sex marriage and “self-avowed practicing” gay clergy will be added to the Book of Discipline, the UMC's policy book. The changes will take effect on Jan. 1, 2020. The UM News Service has published a detailed article examining what the decisions might mean for the denomination's future.

Questions Received through our Online Form

I attended the town hall meeting and was disappointed and dismayed. Despite the cute remarks made by Don Inbody, I still feel that there is a small group within oakhillumc forcing their agenda on the majority. I failed to see how the statement welcoming everyone to attend church here translates to permitting gay marriage ceremonies and ordaining gay pastors. If the paid ministers at Oak Hill truly believe that homosexuality is indeed compatible with Christian teaching, I feel they should be replaced. I reference only one scripture, Matthew 19, 3-6: Jesus defines marriage succinctly as between one man and one woman. Gay couples are free to have civil unions and are protected, if not an overprotected class of citizens. However, a Christian marriage ceremony is a sacrament. Again, using Jesus as our example, he would not have performed a marriage ceremony for a gay couple. Obviously he would have loved them, treated them with respect and dignity. I also take issue with comments made that it was only the international representatives who voted for the traditional plan and that the US favors the more liberal plan. Was his comment intended to influence us, to say that well, since it’s heading that way, we should just along with it? As Christians aren’t we called to be diffferent than the sinful world?— Or in this case, the sinful United States? Don made a point of stating that in many countries homosexuality is against the law. Many countries are predominantly Muslim. Their view of homosexuality is far from the one reflected in our welcome statement. Again, welcoming everyone to the body of Christ is our mission. But, It is not our directive to decide to ignore the Word of God as it defines marriage. I asked questions at the meeting which were not addressed. It seemed that questions were cherry picked by the presenters. How does this congregation, the majority of members feel about this issue?
Answer to be posted
I explicitly joined the United Methodist church--a tradition I inherited from my family but decided consciously to adopt as an adult--because of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral and what I thought was denominational support for use of one’s critical faculties. In order to be a Christian, I need to bring my whole self to the table: my heart, my experiences, and my intellect as I encounter Scripture and tradition. I know that simplistic readings of Scripture are not more faith-filled but are often skewed (by what people read into biblical texts that are not there) and do violence both to the “plain sense” of the text and to the larger canonical collection the Church affirms as Scripture. Those who read Scripture know that biblical texts preserve numerous voices that often challenge each other: Paul’s don’t eat meat dedicated to foreign deities because you might confuse someone new in their faith, unless you are a guest at someone’s home and then you should be a good guest and eat what is served vs. John [of the Apocalypse] don’t eat meat dedicated to foreign deities no matter what; Deuteronomy’s you get what you reap based on your behavior in the near future vs. Job’s sometimes bad things happen to good people etc. One such difference in perspective can be found in the Book of Ruth. Moabites were to be prohibited from the community (Number 25:1-5) of Israel; they were never to be included among the people of God (Deut 23:2-6, Ezra 9-10, Neh 13:1-3) and yet Ruth is not only a Moabitess, but she is the great-grandmother of David, the most famous king of Israel. Scholars think that the book of Ruth was not written before or during the time of David, but likely around the time when Ezra-Nehemiah were composed (which speak against intermarriage). The Book of Ruth then challenges the exclusivist policies of Ezra-Nehemiah and subverts this sort of prejudice linking David himself (with whose family God makes a covenant) to a Moabitess. We cannot read biblical texts without some awareness of the complexities involved in these texts. They are inspired but they are not simple texts that are always easily accessible (hence Joshua and its scenes of genocide, and Judges with its weird violence), and they have cultural baggage too, that has to be weighed and evaluated. Clearly social mores and understanding of science change (we don’t practice slavery, levirate marriage, bigamy, putting whole communities to the ban [that is, killing every man, woman, child and animal]; we know that the earth is round unlike the depiction of the flat earth assumed by several biblical authors). The biblical passages that have to do with homosexuality are part of a particular cultural context and those passages need to be understood within that cultural matrix; they cannot be read uncritically any more than Deutero-Pauline texts and the Pastoral Epistles that would attempt to restrict women’s participation within the Christian community or attempt to silence women (views which reflect a particular cultural context). A United Methodist church that promotes reading the Bible without actual awareness of the Bible or without a reflective, aware, and thoughtful approach to interpretation, is not a church to which I can belong. When I joined this Church, it was under the “Open Minds, Open Hearts, Open Doors” banner. I cannot as an adult person of faith who has thoughtfully joined the denomination subscribe to “Closed Minds, Closed Hearts, Closed Doors.”
Answer to be posted

Adam Hamilton's Discussion

Adam Hamilton, senior pastor at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, discusses what happened at General Conference, what questions it raises, and what the future of the United Methodist Church holds.

A Call to Repentance

A statement written by members of the United Methodist Young Clergywomen Collective. Click for the full statement.

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