Dear Church Family,
I love living in a world with Octobers. Autumn is my favorite season. The coziness of sweatshirts and hoodies, the heat emanating from bonfires, mulled cider, both soups and stews simmering on the stove, and, of course, the foliage. Watching the landscape unfurl its rainbow of colors is awe-inspiring. It makes me stop and take it all in as I breathe in the crisp, brisk air. More so, it makes me reach for my wide-angle lens and hit the White River Greenway.
Anticipating what nature holds next makes me reflect on what God holds next for me, for you, for us. I think about where we were as two churches last Autumn. Some days, it feels like so long ago. How has it only been one year? But patiently yet fervently, Providence has led us into our next step. Providence continues to lead and to guide. Over the past month, we have been discerning the possibility of becoming a Reconciling congregation. Members of our core team hosted Coffee and Conversations on Sunday mornings before worship in the sanctuary. These conversations have been meaningful and beneficial for those who attended. I am grateful for the laity in our congregation who have sparked this discernment process. It will continue into October and November through our Faithful AND Inclusive Bible Study beginning on Tuesday, October 11, at 6:30 pm in Wesley Hall. Throughout this series, we will take a closer look at biblical passages dubbed the “clobber passages.” We will also take a closer look at church history, United Methodist history, and interfaith history as we deepen our understanding of not only our own UMC tradition but also the greater Christian tradition. I understand that members of our church hold different opinions around the matter of inclusion and affirmation. But this Bible study is for everyone. Different perspectives are welcome to come around the table and to learn from one another. I know it can be an uncomfortable and scary thing, but it is always rewarding.
Transitioning, into November, we will end the liturgical year and begin a new one. On Sunday, October 30, we will observe All Saints Sunday and two weeks later, we will commemorate Reign of Christ Sunday on November 20. Last year, we inaugurated a chapel service on Thanksgiving Day. This beloved service will be celebrated again this year at 10 am on Thanksgiving morning. Please make effort to worship with us as we give thanks to God for our manifold blessings. And bring your family members too! Trust me, spending time in worship makes the turkey and dressing taste better too.
With all these wonderful opportunities for worship and mission upon us, I would be remiss if I didn’t address these next two months will be difficult for us as Indiana United Methodists. Many churches in our area have already voted to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church. Many more will vote throughout October. A special session of the Annual Conference will be held online on November 19 to approve their decision. As of December 1, they will no longer be a part of our connection. In their agenda-driven departures, they will leave many disenfranchised people hurting, grieving, angry, and discerning their next steps. We, as Community of Hope, a United Methodist Congregation, can be the healing heart of Christ for United Methodist refugees in our area. May we love them into wholeness and remind them the beauty of Christian community in our United Methodist tradition.
Again, I love living in a world with Octobers…and all of the opportunities it brings.
Sincerely, in Christ