Greetings to the people called United Methodist in Kentucky. Like many of you I have waited in a deep attitude of prayer for The Judicial Council's decision. In my prayers I have depended on the Holy Spirit to grant me a non-anxious spirit. I will depend upon that same spirit to help me be the shepherd of God's people in the midst of anxiety, fear, and uncertainty. I am certain that there will be statements that cover a wide range of emotions now that the Judicial Council has made it's ruling. I call upon each of you to study it carefully, you can read it here.
I also encourage each of you to read the response from the Council of Bishops very carefully and prayerfully.
It is not the first time and will not be the last time the church will travel through turbulent waters. I am reminded that it was God who spoke over the chaos of darkness, calling forth life and light. It was the same God who called Jesus forth from the grave. It is in the power of resurrection that we find life, redemption, and salvation. Therefore, brothers and sisters I do not fear for the church even as we journey through these present times.
I encourage you to go back and re-read the question-answer material that was posted from the SEJ College of Bishops before this decision.
I pray that we move forward continually seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the days ahead. Please be aware that the Book of Discipline has not changed. The Judicial Council's ruling is based on the current Book of Discipline. The Commission On A Way Forward still has important work ahead of it as we move toward the 2019 called session of General Conference. General Conference is the only body that can speak for the whole church. I know that each of you prayed for Judicial Council as they worked to be faithful to the Book of Discipline. I ask that you continue to pray for The Commission On A Way Forward as they press forward listening to the voice of God. You can find more information about the commission here.
Today I was reminded of these words from the hymn "The Church's One Foundation" by S. J. Stone:
"Though with a scornful wonder the world see her oppressed,
by schisms rent asunder, by heresies distressed,
yet saints their watch are keeping; their cry goes up: 'How long?'
and soon the night of weeping shall be the morn of song"
We may be in the midst of a night of weeping, but we are called to be spiritual leaders as God leads us into the morn of song.
Please know that our love for each other and for Jesus Christ never changes. I deeply appreciate each of you and pray God's blessings upon you. It is my fervent prayer and hope that we would not lose the calling to which we have been called together, "making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world."