Dear Church members and friends,
Greetings in the name of our Lord, Jesus!
It’s been reported that the mainline churches in the U.S. are gradually declining. A few decades ago, seventy percent of American people declared themselves to be Christians whereas presently, only fifty percent of Americans say that they are Christians.
Some argue that secularization of our society is to blame for this decline. They seem to have a legitimate concern for the watering down of the purity and zeal for the holy life God wants us to lead.
On the other hand, others argue that young people leave the church because they feel that the church is no longer a relevant and viable option for a meaningful life. They seem to have a good point that young, educated people don’t feel that the church is a place of love and acceptance, especially to LGBTQ brothers and sisters in our society.
Our United Methodist Church has been struggling with this issue for the past several decades, and it does not seem that this issue will be resolved any time soon. As the saying goes, “Discussion is an exchange of knowledge; argument is an exchange of ignorance.” I hope and pray that we may have productive discussions exchanging knowledge about our Christian understanding of the homosexuality issue while avoiding arguments exchanging our individualized truths and opinions.
We are followers of Jesus, and Jesus was silent about this issue. I believe that Jesus did not exclude any sinners, lepers, foreigners, or social outcasts. Jesus welcomed everyone to the circle of the Kingdom of God. Jesus was for love, acceptance and inclusion. Jesus was against judgment, hatred, and exclusion.
If our local church, and hopefully our whole United Methodist Church, stand up for love, acceptance, and inclusion, some people may find hope in our church.
Edwin Markham wrote:
“He drew a circle that shut me out – Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win: We drew a circle and took him in!”
Jesus said, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, I will give you rest.”
Let’s make our church a sanctuary with Open Hearts, Open Minds, and Open Doors!
Pastor Jerry Cho