Leadership Task Force Update
A few months ago, Leadership Council authorized the formation of a task force to explore future programming at Topeka First that would continue to educate and inform our congregation on the current impasse in our denomination concerning the church’s ministry with LGBTQ persons. The task force’s second meeting came after the well-attended seminar held August 25 at which nearly 150 members participated to learn more about civil discourse and to practice the skills needed to engage in difficult conversations. We were encouraged by people’s willingness to learn more about what it takes to engage in conversation even when the content is emotional and each participant brings to the mix strong feelings on either side of a difficult issue. The post-workshop survey revealed that the majority of attendees thought the event was very good or excellent and would be willing to participate in similar events in the future. One of the initiatives the task force is pursuing is a partnership with the Kansas Leadership Center, which specializes in helping communities and organizations tackle challenging problems and lead change for progress. We have a meeting in October with a representative from KLC who will help us explore how we can move toward unity and remain a committed downtown congregation regardless of the outcome of General Conference 2020. We are also planning some future Sunday morning presentations during the Small Group hour to share information on legislation that will be submitted for the 2020 General Conference as well as a recap of a conference Pastor Jeff, Associate Pastor Stephanie Seth, Scott Brewer and myself will be attending at Church of the Resurrection this week. Ultimately, the task force sought to create a schedule of presentations through next May that will help keep our congregation informed as we move toward General Conference in 2020. We will share more details in the coming weeks as some of those initiatives take shape.
There are many voices contributing to the dialogue about the degree with which persons who are LGBTQ can be included in the life of the United Methodist Church -- many voices who have been involved on this matter much longer than I or many of us have. I find it helpful to seek out articles and books that can help me understand the variety of opinions that exist on this topic. I offer links to several of those voices below. In addition, our church has the opportunity to hear several nationally recognized speakers on the “Science of Gender Identity Before Birth” who will give a presentation in our Chapel on Monday, September 30th at 7 p.m. This event is sponsored by Moving Ahead. In addition to members of our church family and guests, other Topeka District congregations have been invited. Leadership Council believes this is an educational opportunity that can be helpful to all as we seek to understand and inform ourselves for the benefit of future discussions.
https://www.churchleadership.com/news/whats-next-for-the-united-methodist-church/ (a 13-minute review/commentary from Lovett Weems, of Wesley Theological Seminary, on the history of this issue in the UMC and the risks inherent in allowing the church to be divided over this issue)
https://rmnetwork.org/newrmn/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/UMCN-Infographic.png?mc_cid=6f911c2d83&mc_eid=ea26f08a5e (a quick overview of the vision UMCNext has for the future of the UMC)
https://www.adamhamilton.com/blog/the-united-methodist-church-i-hope-to-serve#.XYoVSiVOmEd (a recent message from Adam Hamilton of Church of the Resurrection)
Leadership Council welcomes input from the congregation. We meet once a month to discuss a variety of topics important to the life of our church. You can also reach us via email. Our contact information is in the church directory. Our next meeting is October 13 following the 10:30 worship service. If you have any questions about Leadership Council or the work of the Task Force, please feel free to contact me.
Chair, Task Force
Leadership Council Incoming Chair