In February of this year, many of us in the church cried to see not only a literal interpretation of the Bible be taken so far as to discriminate against the LGBTQ community of faithful Christians, but show anger, disrespect, and lack of respectful character towards others that disagreed with those wishing to implement a strong “traditional” plan for our church when it comes to LGBTQ weddings and pastors.
In June, it was hard not to celebrate with joy all those who had sat on the fence or had not spoken up before, come to stand with those of us who have prayed just as much for God’s guidance and looked into our hearts before choosing an interpretation that is not literal on this topic, but sees it, as we do women’s rights and women in the pulpits, as a cultural issue. What we learned on the other side of this issue and from February, is that we all are trying our best to hear God’s wishes, but we must do better to understand and tolerate the opposite side’s position. We may never agree, but Christ stands first and foremost for loving all people….all people…….Let me say it again….All people! If we do not try to keep loving our neighbors that do not agree with us, we cannot claim love of God, as is the first commandment. For God loves us all and calls us to love God and others….no exceptions.
I am happy to have our website show you all that our national church conferences voted overwhelmingly against the traditional plan. If you have not seen it yet, I ask you to go to this link, https://stjohnsmiami.org/post-annual-conference-2019/ .
What I would also like to share with you all are some of the other key items that came up in the conference this year…
- The Florida Annual Conference now has over 300 fresh expressions taking place each month. These work as places outside of church walls, doing things you normally would do, like yoga, kayaking, even beer tastings, and having elements of church worship along with them.
- 14 new churches have become involved in the ZOE program and over 1000 new kids have been helped with contributions like St John’s. These orphans are given lessons and help with health, hygene, clothing, food, and schooling, but most of all with training of careers and small businesses that they can run on their own so to survive, as well as care for other orphans in their families.
- Apportionment giving was increased and the 2020 budget was reduced in order to move more resources to the local churches. This will aid all churches to locally serve the ministries that are near and dear to them, both here and abroad. This includes our ministries in Argentina, which have been growing at a remarkable rate.
- A new ministry plan was approved for Latino/Latina ministries. We finally have a former District Super Intendant for a leader of all Latino/Latina ministries; knowing what is needed, what the challenges are for them in communities that are as diverse as Florida is itself.
- Funding for seminary scholarships were approved for the next five years. This will help clergy pay off the large debt that most all of us have when we get done with schooling, yet are going into jobs that pay substantially less than other similarly educated, and professional, positions do. From paying back our debts, to banking the $5k that each person becoming Full Elder will receive, so to pay for our children’s future educations, the help is dearly needed and very much appreciated.
We will go into the fall together, without Sara Montolio, who has decided to not return after maternity leave, but stay home, at this point, with her son, and looking for a media/marketing person who can also do a variety of administrative aid work. We also will go into the fall though, with renewed hope to be the church that stands with all people and invites all of God’s children to be with us. We will have a special weekend on Sept 20-22d, with three accomplished authors who will aid our community to be the best prepared and most accepting of all communities for families of all make-ups, but especially those of the LGBTQ community, that often is left out. See our link for more details at https://stjohnsmiami.org/family-first/
Keep a watch for all that will be coming up in the form of Christian family fun and learning together too, here at our website. May God bless us to be the face of love, compassion, and nurturing, both today and tomorrow. Amen!