Grace Notes – 2/27/19

Special General Conference on LGBTQ Inclusion
A Note from Pastor Lora in regards to General Conference
People of Grace,

The Special Session of General Conference of the United Methodist Church concluded yesterday in St. Louis in regards to  the ordination and marriage of LGBTQ people in the UMC, and I have to say that it did not go how I had hoped.

Instead of a move toward unity (The One Church Plan) where local churches would choose if they offered same-sex weddings in their sanctuaries and annual conferences would decide who they would ordain, the General Conference voted 53% for The Traditional Plan.

The Traditional Plan upholds the positions already excluding same-sex marriage and openly LGBTQ clergy and adds some extra streamlining to be sure that these positions are upheld. This plan was not recommended by the council of bishops through the Way Forward Commission, so it actually passed knowing that 7 out of the 15 petitions that make it up were unconstitutional. We will now await the judicial council review to see what we are actually left with, and we don’t know when that ruling will come. (Confused yet?) The nitty-gritty of how this all plays out will unfold over the next couple of months.

Here’s what we do know happened: there is incredible division in the UMC, being a church that spans across multiple continents and contexts is difficult, and this conference has caused incredible harm to LGBTQ people both inside and outside of the church. If you have family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, etc. who are LGBTQ, it might be a good idea to reach out to them as a United Methodist they know and love and to just let them know that you care for them. When the UMC finds itself in national news for being anti-gay, there is such pain that is caused. No matter where you find your emotions in reaction to the General Conference decision, it is always a good, Jesus-style idea to let folks know you love them dearly.

If you are hurting because of this decision, I am with you. I have included my own personal reflection that I shared on Facebook below. There are UMC bishops and leaders ready to continue to work toward a more inclusive church and there will be opportunities to advocate for change as those things unfold.

What does this mean for Grace? Well, this Sunday I would expect worship will look like most Sunday mornings. We will still sing and pray and have children’s time and hear a sermon and since it’s first Sunday we will celebrate Holy Communion. There will still be straight people helping to lead worship and sitting in the pews, and there will still be LGBTQ people helping to lead worship and sitting in the pews. We will still have a mission of welcoming ALL to grow in grace together and to share God’s love on campus, in our community, and in our world. Your pastor might shed a few tears when thinking of the pain of LGBTQ people who are hurting and the division in this denomination, and I would guess some of you will too. But I hope you’ll come. Come, even if this decision hasn’t caused you tears. Show up for the LGBTQ people who have come to know Jesus at Grace. Show up so we can celebrate the Transfiguration of Christ together. And pray.

I’m so grateful to be your pastor, and I’m looking forward to Sunday with all of you. (And yes, I’m taking through Friday off in part so that I can process and wrap my head around this news personally and be ready to be back at Grace with a clearer head).

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Lora

PS –
Here is a video from Bishop Saenz encouraging the Great Plains after General Conference ended. I’d encourage you to listen to it.

Here is a video of our former student pastor, Shayla Jordan, urging folks to vote against the Traditional Plan for the sake of the unity of the church for young people. Many of your Grace staff and lay people are part of those 15k+ signatures she references. While the Traditional plan still passed, we are so proud of Shayla’s leadership.

Pastor Lora’s Personal Reflections on General Conference
I wrote this reflection and shared it on my personal Facebook page. I know not all of you are on Facebook, so I am sharing here.
A year ago, we were in the middle of Lent and we were doing a series called “Stonecatchers” at Grace United Methodist Church. It was birthed out of a story in Bryan Stevenson’s book, “Just Mercy.” He is a lawyer that defends people who are wrongfully convicted on death row or children who are sentenced to life in prison, especially those who are African American. He tells a story about a woman who came up to him after court who said, “You’re a stonecatcher, too.” He asked her what she meant, and she explained that all day long people are just throwing stones at one another and somebody’s gotta start catching them. She saw in his work the work of stonecatching.

My heart hurts for my denomination. The United Methodist Church has thrown a whole bunch of stones and they have been hurled at queer people en masse. It is wrong, sinful, unjust, and is breaking my heart.

My congregation is better because of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people in it. The church is better with LGBTQ folks in it. I know this is true. My congregation knows this is true. And it doesn’t look like uniformity of opinion. It looks like relationships that have seen what beauty unfolds when we catch the stones from hurting one another and start stacking them.

Tonight, I feel a whole bunch of grief because we can’t keep the General Conference decision from throwing stones. It just is. And it’s painful. And the LGBTQ people both inside and outside of the church are bruised and hurting. (If this is you – YOU ARE LOVED AND BEAUTIFUL AND AMAZING AND NOT INCOMPATIBLE WITH THE KIND OF CHRISTIAN TEACHING THAT I AM ABOUT).

So I’m trying to figure out what it looks like to be a stonecatcher tonight, and I hope you are too–especially if you are in a place of privilege. Because at some point when these stones that have been thrown get stacked on top of each other, they will guide the way. Because the Lord comes near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18). There will be a way forward for those of us who are committed to the full inclusion of LGBTQ people in the church. I’m not sure where it is tonight. But I do know that God does.

Because you know what? When the women were on their way to the tomb to anoint Jesus’s body, they were grief-stricken and trying to figure out how in the world they could move that huge stone and asked, “Who will roll the stone away?”

And when they looked up–when their broken hearts looked up–the stone had already been rolled away–and they learned the good news that Christ is Risen.

So, church–who will roll the stones of exclusion and harm and oppression away?

I believe that God will make a way and there is new life on the other side, and my prayer is that I will be a stonecatcher today, tomorrow, and always. And for me, that looks like resting in the comfort of the one who defeated death and rolled the worst of the worst stones away for us.

Will you join me?

We’re Hiring!
SPRC  is ready to hire our next administrative assistant. Will you help spread the word? Candidates may apply here.

Successful candidates will need to be patient, reliable, have an attention to detail, and possess good listening skills. The position also requires a high level of efficiency, flexibility, and discretion. This person must hold a high school diploma. Some college work preferred. Strong written communication skills and computer skills are necessary. Familiarity with the following programs is helpful: Microsoft Office (especially Word & Excel), Outlook email, MailChimp, Breeze Church Database, WordPress website, and Facebook. This person also will be self-motivated, able to work independently without supervision, good at multi-tasking, and able to prioritize projects.

Our church has a mission of Welcoming ALL to grow in grace together and to share God’s love on campus, in our community, and in our world, and we would love to welcome a person to our team to help us fulfill this mission. The hours will be M-F 8:30am – 12:30pm. If you would like to receive a full job description to review before you apply, please email

This Sunday we will hear a message from the transfiguration of Jesus on Mt. Tabor and conclude our mountains series. We will celebrate Holy Communion together as well. The choir will sing the anthem. During Communion, we will have music both by the choir and by Carter Humphreys. We hope you will come and worship with us this weekend.
Pastor Lora on Vacation This Week
A Reminder that Pastor Lora is out of the office through Friday 2/29. Bruce Blake is on pastoral care duty and you can reach him at 221-6924. He will also be happy to help you process the outcome of the special session of General Conference if you need a listening ear or help understanding further what the results mean for us. Pastor Lora will be lead worship this Sunday but just won’t be available during this week. Thank you for respecting this time away.
Pancake Feed
Ash Wednesday Worship – March 6
Join us for worship as we begin the season of Lent. We will receive the imposition of ashes and worship with music, silence, and a short message. Children are welcome and it will last from 5:30-6:00pm.
Lent Begins Next Week
Irving Elementary Redesign Meeting – TONIGHT
A note from Irving: We would like tos hare some exciting news. Nineteen school districts from across the State of Kansas were selected to participate in the Kansas Redesign Gemini II. The Redesign Project was created in an effort to redesign public education across the State of Kansas. Irving School was one of the schools selected to participate. We are eager to use this opportunity to improve and expand education for all of our students.

One of the innovative projects we envision at Irving is providing an outdoor classroom learning site for our children. We have received favorable feedback from our staff and students about the possibility of having Winfield’s first outdoor classroom right here at Fourth Street and Harter.

The ways in which Irving could utilize an outdoor classroom are limitless, having far-reaching effects for our students in years to come. We would like to invite you to attend a short presentation put together by our students and staff to provide you with more information.

We are exploring ways to involve Winfield businesses an the community in the creation of our outdoor classroom. The development of our outdoor classroom will include staff, students, families, and our community. We are currently in the planning stages of the outdoor classroom, and we would appreciate your involvement in the creation as we get closer to the building stage. We look forward to recognizing those involved in this project.

In addition to building an outdoor classroom here at Irving, we envision involved the community in new and exciting ways by creating a volunteer program. Using “outside the box” thinking, we hope to enlist community volunteers in a variety of settings. Some of the many ways our students and staff envision community involvement are: lunch buddies, recess pals, art helpers, music class singing friends, field trip buddies, reading and math helpers, good morning greeters, crosswalk guards, life skills coaches, or simply buddying up to play games with children. We are open to new and exciting ways to implement your skills as a volunteer.

Please plan to attend our Redesign Gemini II presentation on Wednesday, Feb. 27 at 7:00pm in the Irving Library to discover how to be a part. If you are unable to attend and would like to help, email the team at

Baskets for Knitting and Crochet Projects in Worship
There are now baskets around the sanctuary (both upstairs and downstairs) with knitting and crochet projects.  If you listen better when you are doing something with your hands, we invite you to take a project from the basket and work on it according to the attached pattern. As you work, we encourage you to pray for the person who will receive your scarf.  After worship, return the scarf to the basket.  Completed scarves will be given to those in need.
Roger Moon Performing in Clarence Darrow 3/2
Roger is performing the one-man play by David W. Rintel based on Irving Stone’s Clarence Darrow for the Defense. It will be at 7:30pm at Richardson Performing Arts Center. Benefit tickers are $25/adults and $10/students. Other $15/adults and $5/students. They can be purchased at or 221-7730
Online Giving is Going Well!
The Finance Team would like to share with you all some of the data we have from our online giving efforts.

In 2018, 8.1% of our giving towards operating expenses was done online. An additional 3% was given through automatic checking deposits.

In January 2019, 9.5% of our giving was online.

We share this information just to praise God and remind folks that they can click here to set up online giving or they can talk to their bank about setting up automatic giving. For online giving there is a 3% (plus 30 cents/transaction) fee that Grace pays and for online ACH there is a 1% (plus 25 cents/transaction) fee. We are glad to do that, and we also know that some people have asked us how they could help cover that cost and then choose to pay the fee as well.

Thank you so much for your continued generosity!

Upper Room Devotional – March/April are here!
Did you know there are Upper Room Devotionals in the office or at the south entrance and they are free to you? They come out every other month and guide you through daily prayer and devotion. Come by and grab one!
Great Plains Connect
Each week the Great Plains Annual Conference publishes their weekly email announcements just like we do for Grace. We will be giving you all a link to this content if you would like to read it. Click here to read this week’s addition!

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