WELCOME STATEMENT OF THE NORTHFIELD UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
Jesus Christ calls us to offer welcome, hospitality, and God’s gracious love to all.
We Offer Welcome to All: The Northfield United Methodist Church welcomes into membership all persons who in Christ seek to love God and neighbor (Matthew 22:34-40). Jesus calls us to love and include one another (John 13:34-35).
We Show Hospitality to All: We affirm the United Methodist Council of Bishops’ statement that “Jesus Christ… calls his church to welcome all people into the community of faith…”, and we accept their instruction to “make every congregation a community of hospitality” (November 2005 Pastoral Letter; see also Romans 12:13 and Hebrews 13:2). TheConstitution of the United Methodist Church states that "…All persons are of sacred worth. All persons…shall be eligible to attend its worship services, participate in its programs, receive the sacraments, upon baptism be admitted as baptized members, and upon taking the vows declaring the Christian faith, become professing members in any local church in the connection.”
We Proclaim God’s Gracious Love to All: We affirm that Jesus and the ancient Christian churches offered God’s gracious love to all persons. All people--Jew and Gentile, slave and free, men and women, the settled and the immigrant, the well and the ill, the poor and the wealthy, diverse ethnic groups and seekers of all kinds, have historically been received into Christian discipleship through God’s universal offer of grace in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28, Matthew 9:10 ff, Acts 10:34 ff).
The Constitution of the United Methodist Church also proclaims this Scriptural principle of God’s gracious love by stating that our churches receive in fellowship and discipleship "…all persons without regard to race, color, national origin, status or economic condition”, and that “….The United Methodist Church proclaims the value of each person as a unique child of God and commits itself to the healing and wholeness of all.” We accept the United Methodist Council of Bishops’ recent application of this principle of gracious love to questions of sexual orientation and church membership. With the unanimous agreement of the nearly 170 active and retired bishops of the United Methodist Council of Bishops from the US and other nations around the world, United Methodist churches were advised that: “Homosexuality is not a barrier to church membership” (November 2, 2005 Pastoral Letter)
Appended (see reverse): Pastoral Letter of the Council of Bishops (November 2, 2005)
How this document may be used:
- As a statement of welcome, hospitality, and grace to all.
- As a statement of our broad consensus of “where we are as a congregation” at this time.
- As a statement of guidance to our pastors, staff and volunteers for the practice of ministry.
- As a statement supporting the Council of Bishops’ letter in General Conference deliberations
- As a partial summary of our prayerful dialogue and as a basis for continuing conversation and learning in the congregation.
A Pastoral Letter to the People of The United Methodist Church
from the Council of Bishops
Nov. 2, 2005
By grace you have been saved through faith. (Ephesians 2:8)
Grace to you from Jesus Christ who calls his church to welcome all people into the community of faith as it proclaims the Gospel.
The Judicial Council, our denomination’s highest judicial authority, recently issued a decision regarding a pastor’s refusing a gay man’s request for membership in the church. In the case, this man was invited to join the choir at the United Methodist Church in the community. As he became more active in the choir and the church, he asked to transfer his membership from another denomination to The United Methodist Church. Because he is a practicing homosexual, the pastor refused to receive him into church membership. The Judicial Council upheld the pastor’s refusal of membership.
While pastors have the responsibility to discern readiness for membership, homosexuality is not a barrier. With the Social Principles of The United Methodist Church we affirm:
“that God’s grace is available to all, and we will seek to live together in Christian community. We implore families and churches not to reject or condemn lesbian and gay members and friends. We commit ourselves to be in ministry for and with all persons.” (Para. 161g, 2004 Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church)
We also affirm our Wesleyan practice that pastors are accountable to the bishop, superintendent, and the clergy on matters of ministry and membership.
The United Methodist Church is committed to making disciples of Jesus Christ with all people. We, the bishops of the Church, uphold and affirm that the General Conference has clearly spoken through the denomination’s Constitution on inclusiveness and justice for all as it relates to church membership:
“The United Methodist Church acknowledges that all persons are of sacred worth. All persons without regard to race, color, national origin, status, or economic condition, shall be eligible to attend its worship services, participate in its programs, receive the sacraments, upon baptism be admitted as baptized members, and upon taking the vows declaring the Christian faith, become professing members in any local church in the connection.” (Article IV, Constitution of The United Methodist Church)