All Saints Day

                         Today, we celebrated All Saints’ Day in worship.    

In both services, we remembered church members who have died in the past year and with a banner and with a tablecover, we remembered all of those who have gone on before us in the faith.  We have celebrated those people who have made us who we are. These are part of the “communion of saints” that we confess when we join our voices in the Apostles’ Creed.

Next Sunday, we will recognize the Veterans among us and give thanks for all they have given.

Many of you have heard of the Bishop’s Commission on the Way Forward.  It is a group of clergy and lay people commissioned by the College of Bishops at the 2016 General Conference to offer a Way Forward to the UMC concerning human sexuality.  The United Methodist Church was created April 23, 1968 with the uniting of the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Bretheren. From that year, General Conference has met every 4 years, and at each General Conference, efforts have been made to change the wording of the Discipline to be more inclusive.  In 2016, General Conference came to an impasse and requested the bishops for a ruling.  After a prayerful time, the bishops created the Commission on the Way Forward to bring a recommendation to a special session of the General Conference in February of 2019.

The clergy and laity of the Commission have met numerous times over the past few years.  They began by setting ground rules for discussion that included truly listening to one another with an ear toward understanding, criticizing ideas, not persons and avoiding ugliness by treating each other with respect.  In the end, they produced not one, but three, possibilities for our Way Forward. The Judicial Council reviewed each detail of the plans, and offered rulings based on constitutional issues within the United Methodist Church.

Basically, the One Church Plan “will remove restrictive language from the Discipline that prohibits same-gender weddings in UMC properties and the ordination of ‘self-avowed, practicing homosexuals.’” However, each church and each pastor would be able to decide for themselves the degree of inclusion that is right for them.   The Traditionalist plan maintains current language while putting teeth in the language that relates to the consequences of breaking the rules. It also provides for churches that will choose to leave the denomination. The third plan is the Connectional Conference Plan and it is a complicated layering of Annual Conferences.  

In February of 2019, the General Conference could vote for one of these 3. They could vote for none. Whichever way they go, it may be bogged down in Judicial Conference minutia.  If one is chosen, it would not take effect until December 31, 2020 at the earliest. In between time, there is a General Conference in May of 2020 that could throw the whole thing out.  

Over and over in Conference and District meetings, we have heard the same words: “We don’t know.”  It makes for anxiety and apprehension.

So, I will tell you what I know:

  1. We are going to keep on serving God.  We are going to plan and do and worship and serve and go about the business of being God’s people in a hurting world that needs to know the grace of Jesus Christ.

  2. We are going to love one another as Christ has loved us.  At Surfside UMC we are blessed with people who have many gifts and who understand human sexuality in many ways.  We will not be unkind, we will love as Christ has loved us.

  3. We are going to have some difficult conversations, but we will do so with care.  Our Church Council will be meeting with Rev. Kathy James from the Conference office to learn about the grace needed in these conversations and how to move forward with love anyway.

  4. We will pray for God to direct the church and to give the General Conference delegates a double potion of discernment and strength.

  5. We at Surfside UMC will continue to love God and neighbor.

If you would like additional information, provides a good overview.  The October issue of the Advocate continues great coverage and is available online at  A list of delegates from the South Carolina Annual Conference with their email addresses is available in the church office should you wish to share your thoughts with any of them.


Pastor Scarlett

PS.  I will be away this week for the second part of the Reynold’s Program for Leadership which I was honored to begin in August.  My prayers are with you and I ask for your prayers as I travel and learn.