College Avenue UMC is working toward being a congregation that more fully welcomes LGBTQ+ people and those who love them. At its May 21, 2023, meeting the church council approved these actions:
1. The establishment of an LGBTQ+ Inclusion working group tasked with recommending actions aligned with our guiding values and inclusion statement to ensure College Avenue UMC is a welcoming and affirming place for LGBTQ+ individuals and their families.
2. An LGBTQ+ inclusion book study series. (The first discussion will be on God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines on July 6, 2023.)
3. Adding pronouns to name tags for those who want them. (Contact the church office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 785-539-4191 to have your pronouns added to your name tag.)
The 2023 Great Plains Annual Conference (GPAC) will meet in two segments. The first segment is May 31, 2023 online to consider administrative actions, including the disaffiliation requests of 155 churches in the GPAC and the closure of a few churches not associated with disaffiliation. The second segment will be in person on June 7-10 in LaVista, Nebraska.
The Lay Member to the GPAC for CAUMC, Forrest Buhler, has prepared a summary of the actions to be taken on the budget, the Petition, and Resolutions. A link to that document is below. If you have any questions or wish to express your thoughts, you may contact Forrest by email at email@example.com or by phone 785-477-4385.
A friendly reminder that the church office is closed today in observance of Memorial Day. It’s a good day to remember those who died in service to their country as well as those who who have gone before us in general and to pray God’s presence and peace upon all those who grieve and mourn this day.
Tomorrow is Pentecost Sunday. The day’s liturgical color is red, so it’s a great day to wear red to church. We’ll also celebrate Holy Communion (because we’ll be outside the first Sunday of June) and welcome Liz Collins into membership. I look forward to being in worship with you, whether you’re in person or online.
Sometimes I find myself apathetic in the face of the injustice, evil, and sin that stand between the way things are and the way things out be. In those times, I’m tempted to conclude that because I cannot do everything, there is no point in doing anything. I don’t think this temptation affects only me. Elie Wiesel, who survived the greatest atrocity of the 1900’s (the Holocaust) speaks against that impulse:
“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” 
 Wiesel, Elie. “The Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech.” Essay. In Night (Night Triology), translated by Marion Wiesel. New York, NY: Hill and Wang, 2006. Kindle.
On Thursday, July 6, 2023 (time to be announced), I plan to lead a book club-style session on God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships by Matthew Vines. The book sets out a biblical case for affirming gay and lesbian men and women—and, by extension, the entire LGBTQ+ community.
As I’ve said before, the argument that the United Methodist Church is having over the full inclusion of LGBTQ+ folks is not a matter of biblical authority; it’s a question of biblical interpretation. This book presents the case for an LGBTQ+ affirming reading of the Bible. I think it’s vital that those who want to be an affirming church for queer people know the biblical reasons for doing so.
There will be copies of the book available in the back of the sanctuary. You can also order copies online from all the usual places, including my favorite locally owned bookstore in Council Grove at flinthillsbooks.com. (I couldn’t find any copies at the Dusty Bookshelf website.)