A reminder that we will have a presentation about the One Church Plan by Mark Holland tomorrow evening (Wednesday, October 17, 2018) at 6:30 p.m. in the sanctuary. Mark Holland is a clergy delegate to General Conference from the Great Plains Annual Conference. He made the motion on the floor of the 2016 General Conference that asked the Bishops to help lead the denomination forward and resulted in the One Church Plan. If you are interested in LBGTQ+ issues and/or the future of the United Methodist Church (including this congregation) you will not want to miss this meeting.
In a recent blog post, my colleague, David Livingston, wrote “Pastors are told to ‘afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.’ We are in a time when everybody feels afflicted.”  That last sentence sums up the past week, the past month, and the past year. It’s been a hard week for everyone who has had to relive the trauma of a sexual assault.  It’s been hard on people like me who did not realize the extent to which friends we know and love have been affected by sexual assault and abuse. It’s been a hard week for folks on both sides of our political divide. No one has won and everyone has lost. Tomorrow I’ll do my best not to afflict anyone.
 David Livingston, “A Plea From a Pastor,” Now and Not Yet, October 1, 2018, accessed October 06, 2018, http://bit.ly/2OL1OP2.
 Whether one believes the allegations against Brett Kavanaugh to be true our false, surely we can all agree and be sympathetic to the fact that having this issue lead the news has made this past week difficult for survivors.
Our next All-Church Potluck dinner will be this Sunday, October 7, 2018, at 11:30 a.m. in Wright Hall. This is the same day as World Communion Sunday. We’ll incorporate the bread remaining from the sacrament into the feast.
Ralph Hilton died this past Friday. There will be a visitation this Friday, October 5, 2018, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. in the First United Methodist Church narthex. In accordance with Ralph’s wishes, there will not be a funeral service.
“Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are.” — attributed to Augustine of Hippo
This Sunday I’m preaching on James 5:13-18. I’m not going to have time to make this point in the sermon, but I would draw your attention to James 5:14:
“Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord.” — James 5:14 (NRSV, emphasis added)
Jenny and I don’t want you to feel like you have to call us if you would prefer to keep something to yourselves, but please don’t hesitate to call us when you’re sick. Even if you don’t want a visit, we appreciate being kept in the loop.
The participants in the God and the Gay Christian book study have decided to form an ongoing group named Family, Friends, Allies. Drop me a line if you want to be included in the group’s emails.
In the midst of a contentious debate, the 2016 General Conference voted to table all legislation related to human sexuality and asked the Council of Bishops to come up with a plan to move the church forward. The Bishops agreed and engaged in an unprecedented two year, global discernment process. They formed The Way Forward Commission and received three proposals. Nearly two-thirds of the Bishops have now recommended the One Church Plan for approval to the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference in St. Louis. The One Church Plan is not a “liberal” or “conservative” plan. It is a compromise plan that attempts to make a way for us to continue to coexist as a united church despite our differences.
There are two upcoming opportunities to learn about the proposed One Church Plan. The first is a town hall meeting with Bishop Ruben Saenz at Salina Trinity United Methodist Church on Sunday, October 14, 2018, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
The second opportunity will be a few days later, Wednesday, October 17, 2018, at 6:30 p.m. in the Sanctuary (here at Abilene First UMC). This will be a presentation by Rev. Mark Holland of Mainstream UMC (an organization formed to advocate for the One Church Plan).
Jenny and I encourage you to go to both events. This is a difficult issue and it’s nearly impossible to fully comprehend the competing proposals the first time around. The Bishop’s event is official, the Mainstream UMC event is not, but it’s supporting the official proposal approved by the Council of Bishops.
Our next All-Church Pot-Luck Dinner will be Sunday, October 7, 2018 at 11:30 a.m. That is the same day as World Communion Sunday. We’ll incorporate the bread remaining from the sacrament into the feast.
An official announcement: the Abilene First UMC Church Conference will be Tuesday, November 13, 2018, at 7:00 p.m.