Reconciling Ministries Listening Session Notes from 2/11/18

St. John’s United Methodist Church, Dover NH

Reconciling Ministries Listening Session Notes from 2/11/18

A total of about 45 people were present. People were gathered in three groups and asked five questions. People were asked to listen to each person (uninterrupted).  A general summary of responses to the questions is below from those participating. There was no at large discussion at this session.

Three “sketches” from The Way Forward Commission were presented in writing to the group and briefly explained as needed.

It was announced that the 3/19 Church Council meeting would include this topic.

  • What do you love about St John’s?
    1. Open Community
    2. Caring
    3. Welcoming
    4. Prayer Shawl & Prayer Chain ministry
    5. Great job working with kids
    6. Sense of community and the music
    7. All generations working together
    8. Community outreach
    9. Diversity
    10. Opportunities
    11. Reconciling
    12. Feel like part of a family
    13. Mission work
    14. Heritage
    15. Membership class
    16. Willing to dialog on tough issues
    17. Family
    18. Missions
    19. Accepting
    20. I grew up here
    21. I have always been a Methodist
    22. Supportive
    23. Community
    24. Love/Loving
    25. Making strides forward
    26. Lot of people with lots of varying gifts
  • What brings you today to this listening session?
    1. Need to review entire reconciling statement
    2. Want to provide feedback and get a status of where we are
    3. Understand responsibility to ourselves and church
    4. Make sure we are focusing on all groups
    5. Lack of communication about same sex unions
    6. Not here to debate laws but acknowledge faith
    7. Trying to understand issues and where we can contribute
    8. Be part of the commitment of reconciling statement
    9. Are we welcoming versus advocating
    10. Learn about the where the larger UMC is with The Way Forward
    11. God is love
    12. To be a part of the ‘solution’
    13. Is this really still an issue?
    14. Join in a conversation about Reconciling Statement
    15. Having to hide who you are shouldn’t be an issue
    16. The general church rules put you/us in a fearful/hurtful position
    17. Education
    18. Church rules should stay current
    19. It’s personal
    20. Ignoring it is not an option
  • What do the words “Welcoming” and “Full participation in the life and ministries of this church” mean to you?
    1. Allow sacraments and weddings.
    2. Total inclusiveness
    3. Experiences of not being welcome elsewhere
    4. Welcoming the unknown is not hard, but welcoming those that you know you disagree with is hard
    5. John’s does a good job of welcoming
    6. Welcoming means there is a certain expectation of what will happen. We are good at that, but not inviting
    7. All sacraments are open to all
    8. A question was raised, “what is the other side of this?” Then the statement made, “I couldn’t be a part of that type of church.”
    9. A person can have their own point of view and still belong and be in service to God here
    10. Full participation is more than being received, but also to give and serve
    11. Haven’t been forthcoming with change (related to same sex marriage)
    12. Full participation is currently restricted by membership (for some activities / jobs)
    13. No asterisk, no exception (allow all activities to all groups)
    14. Address the conflict created by the reconciling statement (total inclusion in statement versus exclusion by church law)
    15. Full participation is just that, no limitations here
  • Are we living out these words?
    1. Pretty good job
    2. We engaged in civil disobedience
    3. Initially the general response was yes, but later agreement that we can always do better
    4. There are a lot of people categories included, we should not focus on just one
    5. We engage with people and make them a part of us
    6. We sometimes stay with those we know in coffee fellowship time – we need to do better talking to those we don’t know
    7. Having two services sometimes means you don’t know people because they attend a service different than you do
    8. Makes a difference who writes the Discipline
    9. Yes (good job) but more can be done
    10. Yes but we need to follow church law. If law should change then do that first. Need consistency.
    11. Need to further address some of the groups to do a better job
    12. Not always – was once asked to leave a concert because my child was restless and making noise.
    13. We do try
    14. We are not perfect. Don’t be too harsh with ourselves
  • What sketch developed by the Way Forward Commission do you feel led towards?
    1. Needs more fleshing out
    2. Second solution makes sense (remove restrictive language and become more contextual)
    3. Not enough detail
    4. Cannot support Option 1
    5. Option 2 was generally perceived as the ideal
    6. The issue in 2 is that people can be singled out for any reason and it doesn’t seem right
    7. Option 3 viewed by some as a compromise, reality, probability
    8. The 3rd option did not seem like it would still allow us to be a United Methodist Church, it would be too many factions.
    9. This is a non-issue is that to young people
    10. We know we have lost some members because of the issue, I hope it can be resolved
    11. There may be a need to consider the idea of implementing a plan where it’s a gradual change – and maybe not one of these plans is exactly how it will come out in the end
    12. The global church and other countries where cultural issues are of great concern needs to be taken into consideration
    13. It would be very sad to see the United Methodist split over this issue
  • Do you have further questions and would you be interested in more listening sessions?
    1. Yes – would attend additional sessions.
    2. What would be the next steps?
    3. Less questions – more resolution.
    4. Yes – there are additional questions but they are not defined at the moment.
    5. Need formal communication.
    6. It’s important to keep the conversation going on these issues
    7. There are a lot of missing details in the three “sketches”
    8. Where does this leave us now? We are torn between policy and calling.
    9. How do we get more people involved in this discussion/process?
    10. Will there be more information from the conference prior to the 2/19 General Session?
    11. If we had a policy it would put us in a position where we are in direct conflict with the Discipline as it currently stands