March 2018

Just a few short days ago, 17 high school students were shot and killed at the end of a school day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. This marked the seventh time this year that someone has been shot at a school in the United States.

In 2014, the latest date that figures were reported, the Centers for Disease Control stated that 652,639 abortions had taken place in the US.

In 2017, 23 men were executed by lethal injection in United States prisons after having been convicted of serious crimes.

What do you think of these statistics? What is your opinion on gun control, abortion, the death penalty?

And should we talk about these issues in church?

I have opinions on each of these issues, and maybe you know what they are. I have not spoken about them from the pulpit, at least not yet. I know there are people who have strong opinions about some of these issues, on both “sides”, who are members here. And I love people who have different beliefs, strong beliefs, on both sides of these issues.

Did you know the United Methodist Church has something to say about each of them? For instance, according to the website, United Methodists are called to: “advocate at the local and national level for laws that prevent or reduce gun violence.” In 2016 at the General Conference of the United Methodist Church, this statement and specifics regarding its implementation were adopted as a part of the Book of Resolutions.

The Book of Resolutions is a document that is revised every four years by the General Conference, elected lay and clergy delegates from around the world. It represents the “official position of the denomination.”

Do you know what the UMC position is on these topics? Do you agree with it? Can you be a member without agreeing with our official policies?

It is my strong belief that these issues are deserving of our attention, and our conversation. It is also my strong belief that any conversation on such “hot button” issues must be conducted with respect and tolerance on all sides. It is my hope, and my prayer, that as we get to know one another better, we can “talk about it” and grow to understand our brothers and sisters in Christ, and continue to love one another.

Maybe you believe otherwise. Maybe you come to church to escape the problems of the world for a while. It would be nice if we could do that, but Jesus didn’t call us to be disciples so that we could escape from the world. He came so that the entire world could be saved through him (John 3:16-17). If we’re going to make disciples, as we say we are, we need to know each other.