Free Grace- Reflections on General Conference

Free Grace- Reflections on General Conference

It’s been a hard week in several ways.   Looking around for some encouragement I remembered a painting my daughter made me years ago, “Free Grace.”   Looking at it again today, I thought of where I have experienced grace.  

I went all the way back to how I got to the church.  My testimony is that I did not come to the church, the church came to me.  I got to the church because of people who came and offered grace to our hurting family. 

Another moment of grace came to mind.  It was the one captured by Bob Helvey in our worship this past Sunday.   If you are in traditional worship you know that Jenny Ebendorf asked to be an acolyte.  Marci and others came around Jenny to make that happen.  She has been serving for several weeks lighting the candles next to the pulpit to remind us of the light of Christ among us.  This past Sunday we installed her as an acolyte, gave her a pin and a candle to affirm her call.   Her enthusiasm and the joy she has in serving is a sign of grace.

The word grace also recalls to me a conversation I had with one of our members this week who is navigating some very difficult circumstances.   As our conversation came to a close they said, “I am doing better than I would have ever expected. It must be the grace and peace of God.”

I am reflecting on grace today as I process the news from General conference.  Like many of you I watched as delegates met in St. Louis.  It became even more clear how divided we are on these issues.  One of our members who came by this morning asked the question on all of our minds, “So what’s next?”  

I wanted to offer these thoughts with a preface that I don’t know all that is next.  But I do know my hope is that we can walk into the future together.  We can:

1.  Love one another.  What we can do is to love one another, pray for one another,  and continue to serve one another through acts of kindness and mercy.  Our church and LGBTQ brothers and sisters are hurting and we can reach out to one another.  My desire is to be part of a church that loves and values everyone the way that God loves us.

2.   Remember who we are.  We can continue to be a loving expression of God’s love.  When I learned I was to be your pastor two years ago, the I went to your website.   There I found these words which is still the first thing people see.  You’re Welcome Here!
St. Paul Church is an inclusive Christian ministry and a place for those of diverse backgrounds to gather together and engage in the love of Christ.

3.  Find the good.  One of my favorite books is “Find the Good”, by Alaskan writer, Heather Lende.   She is an obituary writer for her small town paper.  In writing of a close friend whose son died after a depression everyone asked, “So what do we do now?”  In her grief Lende wrote, “Tonight, and tomorrow and the next day, and next week, and from now on, what we will do is take care of each other, love one another and be Kind, Be brave, and Be so very Grateful— for all the blessings of this one, wild and precious life we lead— and the people who share it with us.”

That’s the best word I know to share with you.   It’s grace to me.


1.  Below you will also find dates for when we will gather as a St. Paul community to begin to navigate a way forward in love.

2.  A brief description of what was passed.
One of my colleagues summarized the actions of the General Conference this way:  “The General Conference of the Methodist Church recommended that the way forward in dealing with the longtime debate on homosexuality is to adopt the Traditional Plan. It was approved with a simple majority of the 865 delegates. The Traditional Plan seeks to strengthen the denomination’s prohibition against clergy officiating at same sex weddings and against clergy being “self-avowed practicing homosexuals.” The plan also encourages those who will not obey church prohibitions to find another church home.The One Church Plan was considered as a minority report. It would have left questions about such weddings up to individual clergy and congregations and questions about ordination up to individual conferences. It was rejected by a 55%-45%.  Most of the votes have been along the lines of that 55/45 divide.”  
Navigating Our Differences with Love: the Way Forward
Two Sessions, Two Options
Sunday, March 10, 3-4:30 pm | McAdams Hall
Monday, March 25, 6:30-8 pm | McAdams Hall
St. Paul will come together to seek and to understand the actions General Conference took, and begin to discern our next steps as a congregation.