Dear Resurrection Family,
Happy New Year! 2020 will be a huge year in so many ways. As a nation we’ll be going through a major election. As a denomination, this coming May will see the United Methodist Church remove language and policies from our Book of Discipline that are harmful to LGBTQ persons and their family and friends (more on this at the end of this enote), as a church we’ll celebrate our 30th anniversary in October, and in our individual lives I hope to help our congregation to grow deeper in our faith, to more faithfully serve God in our daily lives, in our community and in our world.
This weekend we kick off a new sermon series in which we’re listening to the concerns of younger adults, Millennials (b. 1981 to 1996) and Generation Z (b. 1997 to 2012), and asking what Jesus would say about these concerns. These two generations are now the two largest generations alive today and the future of your business, if you are in business, the future of our community and our church hinges on understanding them, caring about them, and connecting with them. They have important things to say, and concerns that they hope we will hear and work with them to address. And, if you are not a Millennial or Gen Z-er, they are also your children and your grandchildren, your nieces and nephew’s generation - and possibly your boss. A recent statistic identified 40% of employees as having a boss younger than they are. As we listen to their concerns, we’ll join with them in asking, What would Jesus say about these things? And that will help all of us grow as followers of Jesus.
This week we’ll focus on Millennial and Gen-Z concerns about our polarized and divided country. In our survey of 500 Millennials and Gen-Z, this was ranked among their highest concerns. A survey in 2018 found 82% of young adults were concerned with the values of Americans today (that sounds like something older folks say about young people, but they are saying it about those of us who are older – and this had to do, in part, with how polarized we are!). 57% were worried about the future of our democracy. This is creating stress and anxiety for them as it does for all of us.
As we head into an election year, we’ll talk together about polarization and what Jesus would say to us about it. This sermon will help you throughout the year as you engage in conversations about politics with your friends and family.
I believe we, Christians, are either part of the problem or part of the solution when it comes to the polarization in our country. I want you to be part of the solution. And for those of you who are Millennials and Gen Z-ers, I think you have the greatest likelihood of any generation to heal our divided nation. This weekend we’ll also be giving you a small card with the well-known Prayer of St. Francis: “Make me an instrument of your peace…” to take home with you. It is a powerful prayer that I hope will guide us during the coming year. (St. Francis may not have written it, but I love this prayer.)
Here is the sermon series promo: website or Youtube. I hope you’ll share it with your friends, on social media, and if you are not a Millennial or a part of Gen-Z, share it with your kids, grandkids, nieces or nephews and invite them to join us!
And by the way, this weekend, if you are present in person or online, you’ll have perfect attendance for the year! Join us!
Most of you, like me, were saddened by the recent shooting in a church in Texas. The man who shot the assailant, preventing additional shooting victims, was the head of the church’s volunteer security team. I want to remind you that we have a security team at every service at every campus whose job is to protect our congregation. The leaders of these security teams are either trained ex-law enforcement or uniformed active duty police officers, and they are armed. We also have numerous team members, both armed and unarmed, assigned to strategic locations, including doors, gathering areas and the Sanctuary during worship services. We discourage the carrying of firearms at church by congregants, because, in the event of an incident, our security experts tell us they may not be able to discern which persons with a weapon pose a threat and which persons might be well-intentioned – and that could mean you might be hurt, or might hurt someone else.
Our best protection is to be alert and immediately report any suspicious people or activity. As our director of security told me, “We’d rather respond to 1,000 false alarms than miss something that might be critical.” Our traffic ministry is also trained to notify security of any suspicious people or activity so they can respond before entry is made into the building. Also, please be patient and accommodating if you are approached by a security leader who asks to check your backpack or bag.
Finally, should there ever be a security concern or threat, our security experts recommend dropping to the floor in order to leave a clear path for our security professionals to quickly engage the threat. I am grateful for our security teams and their commitment to keeping us safe through active prevention.
As we mention the shooting in the church in Texas, I’m also mindful of the Jewish community following the attack in upstate New York during a Hanukkah celebration, the latest in a resurgence of anti-Semitism in our country, an expression of extreme polarization and hate.
As the New Year begins, we’ve got some great opportunities to grow and to serve. Take a look at these…
Yesterday my new Executive Assistant, Stephanie Hubers, began working with me following Sue Thompson’s retirement. Her number at the office remains the same as Sue’s: (913) 544-0700. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, I want to fill you in on the latest in the United Methodist Church. Today an announcement was made about a plan of separation that was developed in consultation with a professional mediator and representatives of centrists, conservatives and progressives in the denomination, led by bishops both from outside and inside the US. You can read the protocol for that plan here.
The plan allows those churches that wish to leave the denomination to form a new Methodist denomination to do so and provides funds to help them get started. It keeps intact the United Methodist Church for all who wish to remain – what I believe will be the vast majority of churches - with plans to remove all language and policies from our Book of Discipline that treat LGBTQ persons as second-class Christians in the church. This plan must be approved in May at our next General Conference, but at this point leaders from all three segments in the church – left, center and right, have supported the plan. The new conservative Methodist denomination that forms in May will retain the current restrictive policies regarding LGBTQ persons. It remains to be seen how many churches will leave to join that group – in the United States this might be 10–25% of our churches. Resurrection will remain a part of the United Methodist Church whose policies, following May, will allow pastors to determine who they will or will not marry and which will no longer tell LGBTQ families that they are incompatible with Christian teaching.
Post General Conference 2020, we will continue to be a congregation committed to building a Christian community where non-religious and nominally religious people are becoming deeply committed Christians.
In a couple of weeks my sermon will focus on the concerns Millennials and Gen-Z have for equality and inclusion. This conversation about our welcome of LGBTQ persons is tremendously important for all generations.
In Christ’s Love,
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