This is a letter mailed this week to the congregation:

Dear St. John Family,

As was announced during the September 8 worship service, the St. John Church Council has appointed a Task Force on the Way Forward. This group’s directive is to discern St. John’s response to decisions made at the United Methodist Church’s Called General Conference in February, a conference called to address homosexuality and the United Methodist Church. Many of you are aware of tension created within the denomination after the Conference’s decision for The Traditional Plan, a plan which affirms the global church’s prohibitions against same sex marriage and ordination of gay clergy. The task force has been asked to prepare a statement reflecting who we are as a congregation in light of the Conference decisions. Please note that though the task force is writing this draft statement, both the church council and the church conference will be required to vote on any statement before it can be adopted. We, as a task force, represent a variety of perspectives on the issues stemming from the conference decision and we expect members of the congregation do as well. For that reason, we would like to hear from every member during one of the two identical open feedback sessions scheduled. (A third can be scheduled if needed.) The sessions will be a structured format where everyone will have an opportunity to contribute and are being held simply to gather input from the congregation. After all sessions are completed, the committee’s next steps will be determined by information gleaned from the congregational feedback received. The two currently scheduled sessions will be held in the Fellowship Hall on Sunday, September 22 and Sunday, October 6 from 12:30 pm until 2:30 pm. Lunch will be provided, and the nursery will be available during the meetings. Please RSVP to the Church office of plans to attend one of the two sessions. This will assist in planning for the sessions and the meals.

Enclosed with this letter you will find three documents:

• A list of the task force members and their email addresses

• Applicable information concerning the Traditional Plan and the Book of Discipline

• The task force’s draft version of a Statement of Inclusion.

Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of the draft statement and for your input, both at the open forums and in conversations with individual task force members. We ask that you be in prayer as we, together with you, study the questions and explore our diverse opinions and beliefs, remembering that we are all members of the sacred body of believers. 

Yours in Christ,

The Task Force on a Way Forward