Most of you know that Corbin, who sang here at the church with our daughters Estelle and Glennis and Glennis’ boyfriend Sammy on Christmas Eve, and I have not been together for quite some time. In fact, he moved out of our home in August of 2013. In January of 2014, surrounded by my closest friends, my brother in Christ Erik led us in a service of dissolution of marriage. Erik and I had created the ceremony, in which I removed my wedding ring and left it on the altar, as a way for me to acknowledge that the covenant Corbin and I had made together in May of 1989 was no longer – and that I could not force it to be.

I wrote about this event in an essay for Christian Century that was published in July of last year. You can find it here: https://www.christiancentury.org/article/readers-write/promise-essays-readers?reload=1579540977876

As I wrote, this was one of the hardest periods of my life. It is not something I had ever wanted or envisioned. But it was something that happened. Corbin and I never stopped being friends through this ordeal, and I still enjoy hearing about his physics research and his trips to play games with our friends from college. We continue to co-parent our three children and trust one another’s opinions and instincts. But we do not live together, and I don’t believe we ever will again.

The news headlines about the United Methodist Church in the past few weeks have talked about the inevitability that the church will split over differing beliefs around homosexuality. Many of these headlines have called the split a difficult, but necessary divorce. It is hard for me to see these words in print. Divorce is painful. There are never “winners” in a divorce. Both parties are hurt, both parties are “less than” in some ways without the other.

But divorce is sometimes necessary for future growth. Our United Methodist Social Principles put it this way:
when a married couple is estranged beyond reconciliation, even after thoughtful consideration and counsel, divorce is a regrettable alternative in the midst of brokenness. We grieve over the devastating emotional, spiritual, and economic consequences of divorce for all involved,… We encourage an intentional commitment of the Church and society to minister compassionately to those in the process of divorce, as well as
members of divorced and remarried families, in a community of faith where God’s grace is shared by all.

The Protocol for Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation, (https://ntcumc.org/signed_umc_mediation_protocoal_statement_-2020.pdf)
was developed over the past six months by a group of clergy and lay United Methodists from different cultures, backgrounds, and viewpoints. This protocol provides a way forward for the church, but it does not come without cost. It allows for the separation of those who believe in a “traditionalist” viewpoint from those who have a more “progressive” understanding of the role of LGBTQ people in our churches.

This protocol is not approved, and cannot be approved, until it is brought before the General Conference in May of this year. If it is approved, there will be more steps required before the separation of the church will be finalized. As your pastor, I will do my best to keep you informed as to the latest information on this and other legislation brought before the General Conference. To that end, I plan to host open discussions in the parapet after worship on February 23, more dates in coming months. If you have any questions about the protocol, what it means for Christ UMC, or any other matters, please feel free to come to those open meetings or contact me at any time.

Communication is the key in any relationship. It is the key here in the church as well. I hope no matter what your opinion or convictions, we can continue to live as Christ’s followers and continue to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. And of course, always remember to
Fear Not
Dianne

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