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California Church to Vote on Leaving UM Connection

by Ed Ezaki

I thought you'd all appreciate an update on how things are moving forward at Kingsburg in light of the recent rejection by Bishop Talbert and Conference Ministry Staff of the ERF proposals to allow processes to leave the Annual Conference. I have kept my personal views out of this because I must be very careful to avoid "advocacy of behavior destructive to the connection."

Feeling that they have no choice but to follow the requirements of Christian conscience, the leadership of KUMC determined that the June 28th worship service will be followed by an All Church Conference at which time there will be a vote to separate from the United Methodist Church. I will be working with the District Superintendent Rick Plain next week to craft the process and the actual motion that will be considered. It may be that the Trustees will retain their membership for a short time while the property issues are dealt with. Most likely, if the congregation leave the denomination, they will have the opportunity to negotiate to be released from the Trust clause or to buy the buildings.

Rick was here to answer questions from our people on Wednesday night. He was gracious and composed as he answered some very difficult questions. I believe that he will act in good faith to help the process move forward. Though he is personally supportive of same-sex unions, I have found him appreciative of our biblical convictions and the value of the ministry we do here in Kingsburg. More than that, he did not try to persuade the congregation to stay, and he tried to assure us that he will not act to punish or take revenge upon them.

My prayer is that whether the congregation leaves or stays, that it does so together. There is much grief here; many have been Methodists for generations and others have made sacrifices to build and maintain the facilities. Yet, many voices have been raised that the Bible offers no other choice than separation. Please pray that this not turn into an church quarrel, but that we will love and care for even those who may disagree with each other.

As our leadership team met together, we read aloud the following passages: Jude 1:3-5; 2 Cor 6:14-17; Titus 3:9-11; 1 Cor 15: 12-19; 1Peter 1:14-16; 2 Tim 4:1-5; 1 Tim 6:3-5; Rom 16:17-18; Eph 5:6-16; 1 Tim 4:7; 2 Tim 3:1-5; Ezek 34:1-16. Silence descended after the last verse was read. Later, the 40 leaders stood together as a show of solidarity in their commitment to persuade all of our church family to leave together. The youngest person there was 16, the oldest almost 90. It was a blessing to see such unity.

I find myself sad and grieving one minute, optimistic and joyful the next. I have great confidence that God will take care of us, but I am also fearful of those in Conference leadership who might seek to make an example of this congregation. At those moments, I am so aware of how weak my faith can be and I pray to have the faith of the martyrs. My thanks to all of you for your prayers. I do not know what the future will hold, but I am sure of one thing, that those who love Jesus at Kingsburg UMC will continue to fulfill our mission statement: Plant the Good News of Jesus Christ, Grow Mature Disciples, and Harvest the Fruit of the Spirit for the Needs of the World!

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