To our Emerging Leaders, Young People, and All Who Minister To Them:
As we’ve witnessed over the last several days, our Church is not of one mind on the issue of human sexuality as was demonstrated by our division over same-gender marriage and ordination of LGBTQ+ clergy. The Special-Called General Conference voted 438-384 to move forward with the Traditional Plan.
This current reality in our United Methodist history does not diminish the pain for thousands who recognize that fewer than 54 votes separated the choice between two plans, the One Church Plan and the Traditional Plan.
I am aware of the heartbreak that occurred after the emotional debate that ended with a damaging blow to the 12-million member United Methodist Church. I have heard from many of you of the pain this moment has caused. Today begins a new chapter in our Methodist history, one we are not yet ready to pen. It’s okay to be disappointed and angry, and it’s okay to grieve. In fact, I share with you in lament. If I could tell you three things today it is this: God loves you. I love you. And your church loves you, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now.
So where do we go from here? I don’t believe we end the conversation. The conversation has just begun, and your voices matter. It will take time to process all that has happened at the General Conference and what that means for The United Methodist Church in Indiana moving forward, especially because several matters still require a decision from the Judicial Council, which will meet in April.
But in the meantime, I encourage you to stay, speak, and listen. God has given you gifts and abilities to bless our Church that I do not want to see unused. You are deeply valued as a part of our Church right now, not just in the future.
To our young people and emerging leaders in Indiana who live experiencing discrimination and bullying directed towards LGBTQ+ youth, young adults and friends, I am deeply sorry for the pain the Church has caused.
One of the most beautiful parts of our denomination is our diverse, global Church. As a bishop, I have had the opportunity to experience the faith of our brothers and sisters in many corners of our world. Decisions made during the 2019 Special-Called General Conference are reflective of our global Church — with that comes differing opinions because we have geographical, generational and cultural differences. These decisions affect a global body of believers that is not only vast but cares deeply about our mission to make disciples.
As you continue to wrestle with questions and doubts, I encourage you to speak up. Talk with your pastor, youth leader, another peer, or a mentor within your church. I want to continue to hear from United Methodists how Indiana can be welcoming and missional. Jesus’s love for you is what we often call grace. May you experience grace in this moment and in the days to come.
To those who minister to our young people, know that you are in my prayers as together we navigate this new chapter. My encouragement would be to do three things: Listen, accept them where they are, and answer no more than you are asked.
It will not be easy, but together we go forward. There is much work to be done, and it is my prayer that you will join me.
Bishop Julius C. Trimble
The United Methodist Church