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This week’s note from Rev. Bill


           There are many phrases that the Church likes to quote, but rarely lives up to. Forgive your enemies? Pray for those who persecute you? Go the second mile? Trust in the Lord? 

               These are ideals that we want to live up to, but many times we fail. Instead of loving our enemies, we arm ourselves against them. Instead of praying for those persecuting us, we try to make laws to get rid of them. We lash out instead of going the second mile. We say that we trust in the Lord, but we spend more on security systems and weapons than we do on talking with our enemies. 

               One other phrase that we use often is “God loves you!” We like to say that, but we keep trying to put conditions on it. “God loves you…IF you behave yourself.” “God loves you…IF you obey Him.” 

               What we find in the Bible is that GOD LOVES YOU! You do not have to DO anything to make God love you; in fact, what you DO has absolutely no bearing on whether or not God finds joy in you! 

               That is so hard for humans to understand – we keep judging our worth by what we have, what we do, what we can accomplish. But God loves you whether you succeed or you fail! It’s like the Dennis the Menace cartoon, where Dennis and Joey are leaving the Wilson’s house with arms full of cookies – “Nah, Joey, Mrs. Wilson didn’t give us cookies because WE were good; she gave us cookies because SHE’S good!”

               God loves us, because that’s who God is. And when we try to make God’s love and welcome into the church conditional upon whether or not someone fits into some “proper” image, we are disavowing who God is.

               This past week the General Conference of the United Methodist Church decided that we need to truly live into the idea that “God loves you”. Over the past 20+ years there have been prayers and resolutions and discussions about whether or not we should allow same-sex, loving relationships to be recognized and honored in the church. There has been a lot of pain and turmoil over this issue, and close to 25% of our churches left the denomination over this disagreement. 

               At the General Conference in North Carolina, the United Methodist Church prayerfully removed the restrictive language that barred homosexual unions and clergy from our Book of Discipline. This was not done lightly; it was done after deep consultation with the scriptures, with tradition, and (we believe) with God’s guidance. We found out that many of the scriptures that have been used against gays in the past really weren’t talking about mutual, loving relationships at all. They were talking about abusive and lustful relationships, not committed lifelong relationships. 

               The process is still before us – the Annual Conferences will each get a chance to accept this, and with previous resolutions about allowing Regional Conferences flexibility in ordering their structure, we are not forcing any church or any pastor to perform marriages. But now pastors and churches that do want to honor a God-based, lifelong committed relationship are free to do so. 

               There will still be some residual pain about moving forward with this issue, but we believe that God is calling us to LOVE each other, not JUDGE each other. Any change of heart, life, or behavior is the work of the Holy Spirit, not legislation. Our goal is to love people into the Kingdom, and help them to find peace in Jesus. And I believe we will find more people wanting to come to Church, because they finally feel that they are wanted and welcome. 

               “Behold, I am doing a new thing…” – do we take that scripture seriously, also? What new things will God be showing us that move us into drawing more of the world to fall in love with Him? 

  • Rev. Bill


Picture of update


  1. Reply
    Adam says:

    Rev. Bill,

    As a gay man who has been with his partner for over 20 years and married this year for 10, I have been following these developments with great interest. I am not Methodist and in fact, no longer affiliate myself with any denomination after 44 years of being Catholic, leaving after a parish with a school in Collier County wouldn’t enroll our daughter in school because of our “special circumstance,” as they put it. While I still identify as Christian and follow the teachings of Christ, it’s been an interesting year, to say the least.

    I am appreciative of this message from you though it does prompt me to ask where you stand with this. While I miss the sense of community and fellowship, I also need a sense of belonging and inclusion, something the Catholic Church denied us.

    Thank you again for your thoughtful message.

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