Last week was a strange week to be a United Methodist. As our denomination-wide General Conference met in Portland to vote on variety of matters, issues involving human sexuality threatened to divide our global church. With rumors of schism swirling, our bishops offered a statement of their own commitment to unity in the midst of conflict. The conference asked the bishops to lead us to find a way forward from the bitterness and hostility that has surrounded these issues for over forty years now. The bishops worked through the night to develop a plan that was approved by the conference. All votes on the issue were tabled to make room for a deeper conversation about how we might be able to live together in peace and love. The bishops will convene a special commission representing a variety of viewpoints to talk and discern a way forward. As they work, a special session of General Conference (which normally meets every four years) may be called in 2-3 years to act on whatever plan is developed.
For more information, please read the bishops' letter to the church in response to General Conference.
What does this mean for us? Well, right now, two answers probably apply. First of all, not much. We are still a part of the people called United Methodists, and we will continue to do what we have been doing - living out our calling to be a village church with a mission to the world. We will still worship together, eat together, host VBS, feed and teach kids at Wednesday at the Port, and so much more. Secondly, we might answer, "We don't know." The next few years will be filled with uncertainty as we do not as yet see the way forward. So I ask you to be in prayer for our bishops as they lead us - they will certainly need our encouragement and support through the troublesome time.
Blessings on the journey, Jim
Tongues of Fire
Sunday's Sermon Snippet: Taming the Tongue (James 3)
Words are powerful things. They have the potential to do such great things in the world - to inspire, to heal, to comfort, to bring hope, to share love. Yet words have the power to do just as much harm as they can do good. Just a few words can bring such pain into the world. James wrote to the church warning of the power of the tongue to create great evil in the world. He warns that although the tongue is such a small part of the body it has the ability to lead the whole body astray. Like bit leads a horse or a rudder turns a ship, the words we speak can guide us where we had not intended to go. If we speak harshly or falsely long enough, we may even begin to believe our own words. So James warns us not to underestimate the power of our words. Likewise, he warns us that our tongues cannot be tamed - it is as if they have a mind of their own. James also warns us that we should be deceived thinking we have tamed our tongues just because we praise God. With the same tongue we praise God and curse the one made in God's image. All this paints a rather hopeless picture - our tongues lead us, we cannot tame our tongues, and even when we think we have tamed our tongues we are wrong. So what are we to do? We cannot tame our tongues on our own, but we can begin to tame them through the power of the Spirit working within us. It requires attending to the wisdom from heaven rather than the wisdom of this world and letting our words reflect the humility of God rather than the boastfulness of the world. Practically, we can start taming our tongues through the power of God in two ways: 1) realizing that every word we say has the power to create - what it creates is largely up to the words we choose and 2) realizing that none can easily tame the tongue and thus forgiving each other when we have spoken harshly or falsely to one another. May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts together be pleasing unto God, our rock and our redeemer!
Praise in the Park
June 5th will be a special day of worship here at Port Church - Praise in the Park! Join us at 10 am at our park for worship including graduate recognition and confirmation of new members. Bring a lawn chair as only limited seating will be provided. Please reserve parking at the park for our elderly and handicapped folks. We will have a picnic following worship. Meat will be provided, so please bring a dish or two to share.
Living in Community
Thank you to Dinah, Susie, and Hannah for leading our VBS Training! Thanks to all our teachers who participated! We are very excited for what God will do this summer!
Thank you to Keith, Liz, and Jordan for leading our music this past Sunday!
Thank you to everyone who has sold cookbooks! We are down to less than 200 copies left and these will not last long. If you know of anyone that still wants a copy, talk with Sue soon.
This Week at Port Church
Wednesday, May 25
10:00 am - 12:00 pm - Office Hours
Limited office hours in Dianna's absence May 25 - June 9.
Please feel free to call or email Pastor Jim if you need anything outside these hours.
Sunday, May 29
9:30 am - Worship Service: "Tongues of Fire: Fighting Fairly"
11:00 am - Sunday School
Praise in the Park with Confirmation and Graduate Recognition - June 5, 10 am
Vacation Bible School - June 27-July 1
100th Anniversary Celebration of Sanctuary - July 24
News and Updates
Find out what is going on at Port Republic UMC this week and in weeks to come!