Sermon Title: Love, Unity & Vision
Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-16
March 17, 2019
Rev. Sandy Johnson
This morning’s message is a little different than what we usually do each Sunday. Last month our leaders met, and we had a lengthy discussion about our church, our goals and visions for ourselves and realized that improved communications was one thing we all were working toward. It also occurred to us that many of our community have been with us less than 2-3 years and you don’t know the history of our church and how we come to be where we are.
This year is our 20th year as a church and we will go into more details about our history at our 20th anniversary celebration that we are planning for September 29th. What we wanted to focus on this morning are two areas that currently have been getting some attention. I’ve heard questions about both when I’m out doing my visitations and we decided we would share with you today what we know.
In sharing it is our prayer that we will continue in our unity together, following Christ and sharing Christ with our community. This in inline with our mission statement: We seek, nurture and send Christian disciples into the world to serve. This is followed by our Vision Statement: We are a place where all people can encounter and share the love of Jesus Christ through Open Hearts, Open Minds and Open Doors.
In 2012, I was appointed to my first appointment as your first full time pastor. Many of you know that the church made a very gutsy decision to take a chance on themselves and committed to hiring a fulltime pastor to help them reach their goals – a growing, vital church with their own building.
I had a preconceived notion that the church was filled with more conservative folks, but politically and theologically. I knew roughly the make up of Boulder City so you can imagine my surprise when our Finance Chairman at the time shared how he came to find our church. He shared how he and his partner had come to BCUMC and been warmly welcomed and how when Gary became ill the church rallied around them both with God’s love.
I was astounded to realize that an out gay man was a member of what I thought was a conservative church and that he sat on the church council. It was then that I realized that this church was an inclusive church, welcoming everyone with God’s love.
In the coming two years we talked more about what it meant to be fully inclusive and I helped the congregation put words to their actions. I introduced them to the Reconciling Ministries Network and over the course of a year’s time met, discussed, discerned whether our church would become a member.
Some were concerned that becoming known as a reconciling church meant that it would turn into a “gay church.” What some folks misunderstood was that becoming reconciling didn’t mean we all had to agree on questions about human sexuality, specifically in relationship to our LGBTQIA sisters and brothers. What it did mean was that everyone would be welcomed and shown the love of Jesus Christ, regardless of any similarities or differences we may have.
Our church came up with the following statement that we submitted to the RMN and became designated as a Reconciling Ministries Church.
“Boulder City United Methodist Fellowship, a connectional member of the United Methodist Church, embodies God’s redeeming love and grace for all humanity and rejoices in the diversity of God’s creation. Each and all of God’s children, because of their uniqueness and diversity, bring the wonder of Christ’s teachings of love and inclusiveness into our Church Family. We proclaim our steadfast love for all people, including people of all sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. We invite everyone to be active members of our Church Family and to walk together as we witness God’s grace and love through Jesus Christ.”
One question came in last Sunday:
“Will BCUMC leave the UMC network if the “traditional” plan is ever fully implemented by UMC?”
What questions do you have?
Next, I’d like to invite Krishun Stanton, Brian Fox to share about our property – the history, work that has been done and our current vision.
Deciding to be united in love is a decision we have all made not only in being part of the leadership, but by each of you each Sunday when we join together and worship God. We have each made a commitment to participate for God’s glory and we do all we can to support the ministries of our church.
There is always change, there is always movement, we have new people coming in and others who are leaving. It is important to remember that we continually change, move and grow, just as our bodies do. We are the body of Christ and I am personally thankful that Jesus Christ is the head – when we “do” this church thing right, we allow God to take the lead and we merely follow.
We don’t have to have the answers before we begin something new. We aren’t responsible either for the outcome, we must only listen to God and follow his lead. If God is calling us forward into something new (and I believe he is always calling us), we must respond with love and trust, understanding that if God is in it, God will provide us the tools to make it so.
For some of us that’s a scary place to be. If you’re uncomfortable allowing God to take the reins I want to assure you that our future is in God’s hands, whether you like it or not.
Our church’s future is not in my hands, not our leaders, not yours. God is our pilot and it is God who will guide us as we make decisions about our property, our community and our missions. Change can always bring anxiety, but we have a God who is greater than any anxiety we may experience. God has our back and as we move forward, we can do so knowing that God will never leave us.