Abilene church preaches unity after divisive decision

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 ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – From the outside looking in, it would seem like any other Sunday, but for Aldersgate United Methodist lead pastor GaryBoles, things in his church seemed a little were off-beat.

“It’s a little awkward, it’s kind of somber,” said Boles.

Boles preaching just days after a decision made that could create a divide in his congregation. 

“You know it’s kind of hard to be joyful in the midst of this because people are hurting everywhere,” said Boles.

Boles’ associate pastor Amy Wilson Feltz was chosen as a delegate for a special conference this past week. The conference brought delegates from United Methodist churches all over the world to discuss human sexuality and its role in the church.

“Some language was included in our Book of Discipline that places restrictions on who can be ordained and who pastors are allowed to marry,” said Wilson Feltz. “That has been in our Book of Discipline since 1972 and we’ve been arguing about it ever since.”

The argument coming to it’s forefront this past week, presenting two main plans among others. 
The first, to stick with the original language and strengthen the enforcement of those rules and the second to allow each church to make their own decision based on its own beliefs. 

The first plan, also known as the Traditional Plan, was passed at the conference 53 percent to 47 percent.

“At the conference, I witnessed no celebration, we’re all grieving right now, not only for this moment in time but for the way things have come about,” said Wilson Feltz.

Wilson Feltz says that even people she knew that were for the Traditional Plan are grieving as they understand any decision will create division.

Wilson Feltz says she hopes to minimize the impact of the division could cause in her church, working with her lead pastor Sunday to encourage unity among members.

“We tried to be congnisent and aware of those people who are on both sides of this issue, knowing that as the pastor, myself and Amy, that we’re leading everybody through this process,” said Boles.

“I think we’ll just remind people that they are safe here, that everyone is welcome here and that there are faithful people on all sides of this issue seeking to be faithful to the gospel and how God is calling them to live out that gospel,” said Wilson Feltz.

The plan that was passed at the conference will now move on to the judical counsel where they will consider what parts of that plan are constitutional and which are not.  As of now 9 out of the 14 points have been ruled unconstitutional. 

KTAB/KRBC reached out to McMurry University, a Methodist-related institution, about this issue.
University president Dr. Sandra Harper issuing the following statement reading in part, “While we understand and can appreciate these philosophical divides, the McMurry campus culture is distinctive in that we express our Christian principles through hospitality and gracious interactions with all who choose to study, work, and compete at the University. The Institution encourages connections between people of varying circumstances, cultures, languages, and beliefs.  We believe that this culture of hospitality better prepares women and men of all backgrounds to engage others in working toward the common good.”  

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