Response From Pastor Steve Regarding the Special Session of the General Council
Dear Sterling United Methodist Church Family,
On Tuesday, the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference of the United Methodist Church voted to adopt the Traditional Plan, which makes no changes to the church’s position on human sexuality. This decision affirms and strengthens the position that United Methodist Clergy do not officiate at same-sex weddings nor do we hold same-sex weddings in our church buildings. In addition, openly gay people do not serve as clergy.
I know that some of you are supportive of this position and others of you are hurt and disappointed. Regardless of your feelings on this issue, I am your pastor and Sterling remains your church. I care deeply about all of you. Your hurts and concerns are mine. It is important for us to treat others with love and respect, especially those who hold views which are different from our own.
If you felt welcomed and embraced at Sterling before this decision, I believe that you can feel welcomed and embraced now. It is important to me as pastor, and to us as a church family, that this is the case.
In reporting on this Special General Conference, the national news media is using terms like schism or split. This is inaccurate. No such schism or split has occurred. It will take some time to sort out the implications of this decision, but a split is by no means certain.
Over the next several weeks, our Associate Pastor, Marcela Jarman and I will be gathering with clergy colleagues to understand what this decision means and how we move forward. There will be a Sunday morning town hall meeting in March at a date to be announced.
In the meantime, there are two events where you can gather more information. Bishop Sharma D. Lewis will hold an address titled “State of the Church: Where do we go from here?” on Monday, March 4. The event will be livestreamed at www.livestream.com/vaumc/stateofthechurch from 10 to 11:30 a.m. and feature an address by Bishop Lewis as well as time for questions and answers. You are invited to come to church where this event will be shown in the sanctuary.
In addition, on Wednesday, March 13, at 7:00 p.m. at Herndon United Methodist Church, there will be a conversation with General Conference Delegates Tom Berlin and Martha Stokes, called “What Just Happened?” This event will provide an update on the process and decisions that were reached during the 2019 General Conference. You may register for the event here.
Our practice of an open communion table is a hallmark of who we are as United Methodists. It is an expression of grace and our oneness in Christ. We will celebrate communion this Sunday, March 3, at 9:00, 10:00 (Spanish) and 11:00 a.m. As always, all are welcome this Sunday at the communion table. It is my prayer that you will join us.
Pastor Steve Vineyard