R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Complexity in Conversations - November Worship Series
For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight ---Isaiah 65:17-18
Beloved Epworth Community,
Thank you all for your prayers and good will as we completed the jurisdictional conference over the weekend. I’m very inspired by the three new bishops we will have in the Western Jurisdiction, Rev. Dr. Dottie Escobedo-Frank, Rev. Dr. Cedrick Bridgeforth and Rev. Carlo Rapanut. Bishop Carlo is the first Filipino United Methodist bishop to be elected in the United States and Bishop Cedrick is the first African American gay bishop. The Western Jurisdiction has broken many “glass ceilings” and this conference was no different! My joy in the movement of these three persons into new positions, is tempered by another change of position, this one in our own staff. Merrie Bunt has decided to conclude her four years of service at Epworth as Director of Communications and Building Operations on November 23. I know you join me in thanking Merrie for the contributions she’s made to our community through the front office by supporting committees and volunteers, creating beautiful and engaging designs, coordinating video worship services and tech support for worship and meetings, and many other ways of offering support to our community. We are now seeking a new Church Administrator. Will you help us spread the word by sharing the position announcement with your networks? And if you are willing to help out in the office as we move into Advent during this transition, please let me or Stephanie Sisk-Hilton, PSPRC chair, know. R-E-S-P-E-C-T Series Continues I’m grateful to my friend and colleague Rev. Debbie Weatherspoon for her leadership and message last Sunday as we kicked off the new series on civil dialogue and complex conversations. This week, we’ll continue the series as we process the deep divides in this nation, based not just on politics but different visions of what America should be. My message is “R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Words that Do No Harm.” It will be rooted in Luke 21:5-15 which acknowledges that history has seen divisions before but offers us a way through as Christians. We’ll have another great morning of music with selections from Songs of Zion and the musical Wicked. Worship revives my spirit and I look forward to worshipping with you. After worship, fellowship time will be offered in both the Fellowship Hall and on the Hopkins patio. At 11:15, there are two opportunities to engage in the ministry of Epworth. The worship design team will meet at 11:15 to continue planning for Advent, and the Reconciling Committee will look at what is coming up next in planning for Epworth’s Reconciling witness and support of our LGBTQIA+ community. All are welcome. We’ll announce on Sunday room locations for each. Additionally, the Reconciling Committee is seeking a few volunteers to assist with taking the rainbow doors down so they can be stored for winter. If this could be you, please contact Aimee Reader <email redacted for privacy>. A Better Place Campaign Thank you to all who have made a commitment to Epworth’s ministries to 2023! We are moving toward our goals but are not there yet. We hoped to increase by 10% the number of households pledging. Our goal is 90 households and so far we are at 58. We also set a financial goal of $400,000 and have received commitments of $220,000 at this point. If you haven’t made a commitment yet, I urge you to do so, which you can do online or by downloading a pledge card. You can see a beautiful depiction of Epworth’s impact and plans for ministry for next year here. Caring Network Epworth is a community where individuals are caring for and supporting each other all the time. Everyone needs a little extra help from time to time, and we’re launching the Caring Network to support the church community in making connections between people in times of need. Thank you to Brit Toven-Lindsey for leading this effort! If you have a need or know someone who does, it’s as easy as sending a quick email. For those who want to help others, fill out a short questionnaire to be added to the community of caring congregants who help with things like running errands, giving someone a ride, preparing a meal, or writing a letter to let someone know you’re thinking about them. This caring service is already happening every day in our community – the goal of the Caring Network is to create a space where people can request help and offer support, and to target outreach to folks who may be able to offer help with a particular need. May the fall leaves and temperatures bless and refresh you. Grace and peace to you, Pastor Kristin
November 4, 2022
Beloved Epworth Community,
Greetings from Salt Lake City where Dr. Jeffrey Kuan, Dr. Randall Miller and I are taking part in the Western Jurisdictional Conference. In this column, I want to share with you about the new series beginning this Sunday, and offer some updates and reflections on what is taking place at jurisdictional conference.
New Series: R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Complexity in Conversations
This Sunday we’ll begin a three-week series on civil dialogue and nonviolent communication. The series draws from the Just Faith group Rev. Debbie Weatherspoon and I led in the spring, and will draw from biblical and theological sources in exploring how to have difficult conversations. Debbie will begin this week, I’ll be preaching the following week on November 13, and Debbie will close the series on November 20. Just in time for election day and Thanksgiving!
One hundred delegates are gathered in Salt Lake City hailing from Colorado to Hawaii and Alaska. As we work to elect three episcopal leaders, we pray that the Holy Spirit will move in and among us, that we might make the decisions God would have us make. We began with 18 candidates and have spent months in interviews with them, receiving materials from them, and in dialogue with each other. It is designed to be a process of deep discernment.
After two days of conferencing and 8 ballots, we have yet to elect a candidate. After engaging his own discernment and with the hope of moving the body forward, Dr. Jeffrey Kuan withdrew from the process after the sixth ballot. Though I was sorry not to be able to continue casting a vote for Jeffrey, I’m deeply grateful for his leadership for the jurisdiction and in the process. His words of hope and wisdom were a gift to the conference. Jeffrey will continue as President of Claremont School of Theology. In January, he’ll take a well-deserved sabbatical and then continue as honored faculty of Claremont.
In between ballots, we also deal with legislation, and I was pleased to present legislation on behalf of the queer delegates from across the country that recommended a continuance of the moratorium on charges against LGBTQIA clergy and our allies who preform same-sex marriage. The legislation passed. Tomorrow we will present legislation to establish an LGBTQIA caucus in the jurisdiction. Jeffrey presented legislation that also passed which called for those who are stepping away from membership in the United Methodist Church during this time of separation to also step away from leadership roles in the denomination.
I ask for your prayers as we work through the process of bring forth new leadership who can pastorally and prophetically bring the witness of the West to the denomination and the world. You can follow along on the livestream and find news and updates on the Western Jurisdiction’s website.
Blessings and peace,