Author: Jerry Rairdon
I have been a member of the Indiana Annual Conference for 35 years in full time ministry. I’m usually the person who sits in the back of the auditorium with a few comrades and jokes about the tedious debate over motions and resolutions. I’ve never enjoyed the politics of the church and have decided most things that happen on the General Conference level have little impact on my ministry in the local church.
At least that is how I felt until this past year’s Annual Conference. I watched the typical political maneuvering that has taken place for years which has resulted in an Indiana delegation that seems dominated by one side of this issue. I realized if this same maneuvering happens at February’s General Conference without a response from more moderate thinking United Methodists then our denomination will be locking in a system that will set the church back for years and severely diminish our ability to reach future generations. Even more I felt God’s call on my heart that I had to at least try to ensure another side is heard.
I come from a theologically conservative background but personal study and experience has broadened my understanding of human sexuality. The scriptures are sacred to me. My theological mentor calls me a progressive evangelical. The result is I value the covenant I have with clergy on both sides of this issue. To divide over one issue parallels the Methodist Episcopal split over slavery in 1844, a move that proved to be on the wrong side of history. A fragmented denomination weakens the missional outreach of the United Methodist Church and breaks my heart.
I believe the One Church Plan offers the best chance for each conference, church and pastor to follow the dictates of their conscience. It will allow me to guide my congregation to seek God’s will in our context as we relate to the complexities of human sexuality. My personal calling as a pastor has always been to create a congregation that my children (and now my grandchildren) would want to be a part of. The One Church Plan is a compromise that takes a step in the right direction toward a church that future generations will be a part of.
As a part of this work at General Conference, interested persons at Noblesville First UMC have agreed to raise $2,500 to support Mainstream UMC’s goal of passing the One Church Plan. We need moderate voices to lead our church.
Jerry Rairdon, Lead Pastor of Noblesville First UMC (north of Indianapolis) and Rob Fuquay of St. Luke’s UMC (Indianapolis) recently launched an Indiana expression of Uniting Methodists in response to the special session of the General Conference on human sexuality.