October 12, 2022
A Note from Pastor April
I’ve always been fond of the season of fall.
The cooler, crisp temperatures.
The changing colors of the leaves.
The start of my Fantasy Football League (and all the delightful trash talking that comes with it).
The pumpkin spice EVERYTHING. (Whoever brought the pumpkin spice donuts to church last week… you are very appreciated!)
And all the amazing Halloween decorations, costumes, and fabulous candy. (It’s not too late to join us on Saturday at our Trunk or Treat event!)
Fall is the season for hot apple cider, evening fires, and curling up with a good book, a sweater, and a hot cup of tea. What’s not to like?
I’ve been slower to come to appreciate the lessons that this season brings to us…
Preparing for what is to come.
It’s that last one that’s my least favorite.
Letting go is the opposite of being curled up in my sweater drinking tea.
It asks me to leave behind things that I am familiar with, comfortable with, and sometimes things that mean a lot to me.
It asks me to acknowledge the things that didn’t turn out the way I hoped, or the plans I made that failed, or the agendas that turned out to be the wrong ones.
Sometimes that means letting go of ideas and ways of thinking.
Sometimes that means allowing my kids more space to grow and take responsibility for their own choices (still working on this one).
Sometimes that means making space for the reality that some people will not remain in our lives in the same way they were in the past.
Last week, I spent most of a day with clergy colleagues in our first conference-wide meeting since COVID. It was so nice to share space together and to reconnect with one another in person. I didn’t realize how much I had missed these spaces.
On our agenda was learning about the process many of our fellow clergy and congregations are undergoing as they choose to disaffiliate with our denomination. The majority of those leaving will be joining the new Global Methodist Church. On November 19, we will hold a special Annual Conference for West Ohio to officially mark these transitions.
It’s not a secret that the United Methodist Church hasn’t been of one accord around the topic of human sexuality. The Global Methodist Church is creating a space for those with a more conservative viewpoint around this issue to gather and worship, absent from the debate and demands for full inclusion of LGBTQ clergy and laity. This month, many congregations across our state and region will be voting about whether to stay United Methodist or to join the Global Methodists.
This hasn’t been much of a conversation around Hilliard UMC since we voted last year to join the Reconciling Ministries Network.
As a congregation committed to pursuing full inclusion for all marginalized communities as a part of our core identity, joining the Global Methodist Church would go against these values. We will remain committed to the United Methodist Church and to the work of sharing God’s love with our community… no matter what.
Still… letting go is hard.
Some of the people I have walked through ministry with for nearly two decades will no longer be walking with me as United Methodists. Many of those were folks who mentored and guided me through some of the hardest seasons of life.
Some of the congregations we’ve connected with and even partnered with will be headed in new directions.
I get a bit defensive when I hear about some of the misinformation that’s happening about our denomination during this separation — erroneous and ridiculous claims about our bishop no longer teaching the Gospel or even the idea that the UMC will no longer be claiming Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. It seems that even this… we’ll have to let go. Sometimes people want to believe what they want to believe.
This fall, I’m trying to hold some space for the things that this season is teaching me
…the reminder that letting go is an act of courageous trust.
As we release what we cannot control into the hands of one who is trustworthy, loving, and present with us through it, we are trusting that somehow even this loss will be survivable.
We are trusting that God will be with us in the new season of unknown and discomfort, helping all of us to move toward new life somewhere down the line.
My prayer for all of us during this fall season is that the falling leaves might invite us ever more deeply into the place of trust where we can open up our palms to what is happening, cling a little bit less, and know in our bodies, hearts, and minds that God is here with us every step of the way.
Blessings to all of you!
The Rev. April Blaine
614.876.2403 (church office)