Saturday, May 25, 2019

Perry First U.M.C. Bemoans Options from General Conference Regarding Local Church Families' Gay Methodists

This past Thursday, May 23, 2019, Pastor Tony Hipes at the Perry First United Methodist Church gave a power point presentation followed by an open discussion on the options available to this local church following the February vote of the General Conference. By 56 votes, the Traditional Plan won over the Bishops' recommendation of the One Church Plan.

The Traditional Plan not only keeps the current negative language toward their gay Christians in the U.M. Book of Discipline, but substantially adds to it. All of the negative language is said to create a second class category of United Methodists which only permits marriage between a man and a woman, and does not permit ordination or consecration for gays in a gay relationship.

The Bishops' Open Church Plan would have held all United Methodists together under the broad umbrella but would have allowed Annual and Jurisdictional Conferences to set their own standards for marriage and ordination.

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The Perry congregation is left with the almost impossible choice of (1) favoring their church to be an open and welcoming place for all persons, including gay Methodists, gay family members, and gay folks from the community seeking a spiritual faith based on the teachings of Jesus Christ, or (2) favoring their beloved conservative members who do not share the same affinity regarding people who happen to be gay based on the teachings of Saint Paul and the Old Testament.

For the time being, they await the work of their Annual Conference in determining the buyout costs of the Clergy Pension Plan percentage that would be due from their local church in order for the congregation to affiliate with a different national church. Also in the meantime, they will be looking at membership in the Reconciling Movement which is an unofficial way of welcoming all persons of all orientations but still having to strictly follow the Book of Discipline and its restrictive language regarding marriage and ordination, a mixed message of sorts.

The Silver Lake Institute used to be an organic part of the United Methodist Church until Feb. 2, 2016, when SLI became an independent 501c3 non-profit organization serving Wyoming County. The Asbury Camp and Retreat Center used to be part of the Silver Lake Institute until the late 1950s when the WNY Conference bought the land and buildings that were located south of Chapman Ave. Asbury is now run under the auspices of the Camps, Conferences, and Retreats Committee of the Upper NY Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. The Institute and the Retreat Center do a mini-Chautauqua four-day event biennially (2015, 2017, 2019) utilizing both campuses and all buildings and this year's is from August 8-11, 2019. See for details.

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