In 1945 a pastor visited the people in a town on the tip of a large south Florida lake and after he shared Jesus with them, they were transformed by the gospel! This story took place in our beloved town of Clewiston and for seventy-five years we’ve continued our quest to know Jesus and make Jesus known.
We were called First Methodist Church of Clewiston when we began our journey to serve Christ. In 1968 when the Methodist and United Brethren denominations merged we entered into a covenant with the new denomination that was formed and became the First United Methodist Church. Fast forward to 2021 and we find that the covenant we have honored for the past fifty years has been broken by laity, clergy and leadership within the denomination.
For more than a decade, there has been a continued focus on the subject of human sexuality (most prominently with regards to the ordaining of and marriage of LGBTQ persons) that has led us to a potential split of our denomination. This split will most likely be voted upon in late August of 2021 when the General Conference (862 dele-gates from around the world) comes together or meets virtually.
When the “Protocol” came out in January of 2020, we furnished copies of the document for congregational reading. * This proposal would change the Book of Discipline (a part of the covenant between the denomination/churches/clergy) to allow the changes in the area of human sexuality as noted above and that group would continue on as the United Methodist Denomination. Those who choose to leave the denomination, would become a member of a new, traditional denomination.
The history of our church here in Clewiston, includes a focus on scriptural holiness; local and global missions work; many areas of service to our community; spiritual formation development for children, youth and adults; and a focus on making disciples of Jesus Christ as we read in Matthew 28:19. I believe our church is committed to continuing our focus in the above areas and we are exploring options that will help us stay true to who we are as Christ’s Church in Clewiston.
At an Administrative Council Meeting recently, we had a speaker from the Wesleyan Covenant Association come and clarify who they are as a Wesleyan movement and they held a Q and A period at the end of the presentation. One of the things they suggested we do is to form a transition team which we are in the process of putting together. Another thing we must do is to pray for God’s wisdom and direction as we head into these times of possible change. One thing we will continue to do is to keep our eyes on Jesus.
As a shepherd, I ask that you pray for our church, denomination and for the mission God has called us to in making disciples for Jesus Christ. I would also ask that you be open to reading information that I share and sources that will help us navigate the path ahead. We have wonderful Wesleyan roots in following Jesus and I pray we are always about knowing Jesus and making Jesus known. Stay tuned for more to come.
God loves you and so do I.