FUMC is now a Reconciling Congregation!

First United Methodist Church of Salem (FUMC) is a congregation who believes God’s love and grace extends to all.  We welcome everyone into our church family!

In order to more fully welcome all, we became a “reconciling congregation” by joining the Reconciling Ministries Network. The Reconciling Ministries Network’s mission is:

“Living into our shared baptismal covenant, Reconciling Ministries Network equips and mobilizes United Methodists to resist evil, injustice, and oppression as we seek justice for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.”Please check here for updates as we move forward and grow together on this journey.

Update #5 – November 19, 2018

On Sunday, November 18, 2018, Salem First United Methodist Church of Salem voted to become a Reconciling Congregation  
 
A total of 270 ballots were received. 
240 voted in favor, 24 opposed, 6 abstained, for a 89% majority. 
 
A minimum two-thirds majority was necessary to pass the motion.
MOTION: That Salem First United Methodist Church becomes a Reconciling Congregation by adopting the following Reconciling Congregational Statement and Welcoming Statement.
Reconciling Congregational Statement
As a Reconciling Congregation, we will take the following actions:
  • Adopt the below Welcoming Statement as our church statement and make it available in print in our front office and post it on our church website.
  • Register as a Reconciling Congregation with the national Reconciling Ministries Network.
  • Identify our church as a Reconciling Congregation on our website homepage and on other social media platforms.
  • Open our facilities for weddings of LGBTQ* people.
  • Support the individual choice of each member of our clergy on whether to perform weddings of LGBTQ people.
  • Advocate for full inclusion of all people into the life, ministry, and leadership of our church and denomination.
  • Advocate for the civil and religious rights of all people in our community and state.
Welcoming Statement
We are a reconciling community of faith and believe that all people are created in God’s image and that God’s love and grace extend to everyone. We welcome the full inclusion of all people into our church family and into a walk with Jesus Christ regardless of:
  • Race, creed, culture, or nation of origin;
  • Sexual orientation or gender identity;
  • Marital status;
  • Physical or mental ability;
  • Political or theological identity;
  • Economic status; or
  • Any other label placed upon people.

No matter where you are on your spiritual journey, you are welcome in the life, leadership, and ministry of Salem First United Methodist Church.

* – LGBTQ = Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning

Update #4 – November 13, 2018

November 9, 2018

Dear Church Family,
On November 8, 2018, the Administrative Council approved a motion for Salem First United Methodist Church to become a Reconciling Congregation by adopting a Reconciling Congregational Statement and Welcoming Statement. If we become a Reconciling Congregation, we will officially welcome all people into the life, leadership, and ministry of our church regardless of race, creed, culture, nation of origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, physical ability, mental ability, political identity, theological identity, economic status, or any other kind of label placed upon people. The motion approved by the Ad Council will be brought to an All Church meeting for a vote at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, November 18. At the All Church meeting and prior to our vote, an opportunity will be provided for you and others to share your thoughts on the matter.

Over the past several weeks we have worked hard to provide information on what it means to become a Reconciling Congregation so you can make an informed decision when you vote. To help ensure the vote is representative of our church family, we have opened the vote to anyone who self-identifies as a member of the Salem First United Methodist Church family. Additionally, we are providing opportunities for absentee voting for anyone who cannot attend the November 18 All Church meeting.

Regardless of the outcome, I believe this vote on whether or not to become a Reconciling Congregation will mark an important point in the history and future of Salem FUMC.

Please participate in the decision. And, as you participate, please do so thoughtfully, prayerfully, and respectfully. I know that within our church family there are many viewpoints on the issues and implications associated with becoming a Reconciling Congregation. For some, this is a straightforward decision with an obvious choice. For others, it is a complex matter demanding deep consideration because of the way it intertwines history, tradition, culture, doctrine, personal experiences, and personal relationships.

God bless you all and thank you for being a part of the family and ministry of Salem First United Methodist Church.

With warmest regards,
Robert Chandler, Chair
Administrative Council
Salem First United Methodist Church

Update #3 – November 2018

Upcoming Vote

An All-Church meeting to vote on becoming a Reconciling Congregation will take place on Sunday, Nov. 18, at 2:30 pm, in the main sanctuary.  Childcare will be provided.  All who self-identify First UMC as their church home are eligible to vote.

A special meeting of the Administrative Council will be held on Thurs. Nov. 8, 7:00 pm, to review congregational feedback and to pass the final resolution to be voted upon.

The resolution and absentee ballots may be requested through the church office starting on Nov. 9 and will be made available at worship on Sundays Nov. 11 and Nov. 18. Absentee ballots include a voting ballot and signature form. Both must be returned to be valid.  Absentee ballots must be returned to the church office prior to Friday, Nov. 16 at noon. (Note, there is no mail delivery to the church on Friday.) Absentee ballots may also be placed in ballot boxes on Sundays Nov. 11 or 18. Ballot boxes will be in the Historic Dining Room and MICAH Worship Center on those two Sundays.

Reconciling Ministries Proposal Timeline 

  • Thursday, November 1: Feedback Suggestion Forms due in the church office.
  • Thursday, November 8: Special Administrative Council meeting to adopt final motion.
  • Friday, November 9: Absentee Ballots available from the church office on request.
  • Sunday, November 11: Absentee Ballots available following worship services (also on November 18.
  • Thursday, November 15: Absentee Ballots mailed to the church must be received in the office. (There is no mail delivery to the church office on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.)
  • Sunday, November 18: Absentee Ballots delivered in person must be received by 1:00.
  • Sunday, November 18, 2:30 p.m.: All-Church Meeting to vote on the Reconciling Congregation motion will be held in the Sanctuary. (Childcare will be provided.) Ballots will be counted and the result announced by the end of the meeting.

Do you have any questions? Read below or click here to download our question and answer sheet.

Many thanks, Robert

  1. What does it mean for Salem First United Methodist Church to become a Reconciling Congregation?

Becoming a Reconciling Congregation means Salem First United Methodist Church will fully welcome all individuals into the life, ministry, and leadership of our church regardless of race, ethnicity, culture, or other labels placed on people. We will specifically and publicly adopt a statement of welcome to individuals regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

  1. Are there other United Methodist Churches that have become Reconciling Congregations?

The Reconciling Ministries Network recognizes over 900 registered Reconciling Communities. In Oregon, there are at least 33 United Methodist Churches that have identified themselves as Reconciling Congregations. Among these are: FUMC Ashland, Beaverton FUMC, Corvallis FUMC, Eugene FUMC, FUMC Gresham, FUMC Oregon City, and Portland FUMC. Morningside FUMC, one of the Salem-Keizer Open Door Churches, became a Reconciling Congregation over 20 years ago. Our Oregon-Idaho Conference declared itself to be a Reconciling Conference in 2004.

  1. I think we already have a welcoming congregation, so why do we need to be “Reconciling”?

Our members certainly exhibit a warm and welcoming spirit to others. However, there are

certain provisions in the current United Methodist Book of Discipline (2016) that prohibit the full inclusion of members of the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning. Sometimes also LGBTQIA, which adds Intersex and Asexual or Ally) community into the life, ministry, and leadership of our church. By becoming a Reconciling Congregation, we are clearly and publicly stating that we will fully welcome people of all sexual orientations and gender identities into the life, ministry, and leadership of FUMC regardless of provisions in the Book of Discipline that state otherwise. We will also advocate for changes in our United Methodist Book of Discipline.

  1. What is the Book of Discipline and what does it say about homosexuality?

The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church sets forth the laws, organization, and processes by which United Methodists govern themselves. It was originally published in 1784 (in the Methodist Episcopal Church) and is updated every four years following the meeting of the General Conference, which has the authority to amend the document.

There are specific provisions in the Book of Discipline that state to the LGBTQ community that they are not fully welcome into the life, ministry, and leadership in the United Methodist Church. Among them:

“The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching.” [Book of Discipline, Section 161.G]

“The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore, self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.” [Book of Discipline, Section 304.3]

“Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches.” [Book of Discipline, Section 341.6]

  1. So, if we become a Reconciling Congregation we will be going against certain rules in the Book of Discipline?

We have a choice. We can strictly adhere to the Book of Discipline and continue to exclude members of the LGBTQ from being fully part of the life, ministry, and leadership of our church, or we can deliberately and publicly choose to not follow specific provisions in the Book of Discipline and welcome all people into our church family. Regardless of whether we choose to become a Reconciling Congregation, we will continue to affirm the values of all people. As stated in the Book of Discipline:

“All persons are individuals of sacred worth created in the image of God. All persons need the ministry of the church in their struggles for human fulfillment, as well as the spiritual and emotional care of a fellowship that enables reconciling relationships with God, with others, and with self” [Book of Discipline, Section 161.G].

“Certain basic human rights and civil liberties are due all persons. We are committed to supporting those rights and liberties regardless of sexual orientation” [Book of Discipline, Section 162.J].

  1. If we want to become a Reconciling Congregation, do we have to allow ceremonies in our church that celebrate homosexual unions?

Becoming a Reconciling Congregation does not strictly require a church to open its facilities to same-sex weddings. Some churches have chosen not to do so, but in the meantime are supporting changes to the Book of Discipline that will allow ministers to officiate same-sex marriages and allow the use of facilities for same-sex weddings. For Salem First United Methodist Church, we believe that full inclusion of all people into the life of our church includes opening our facilities to ceremonies that celebrate marriages of all people and allowing our ministers to officiate at these ceremonies. Doing so will formally demonstrate that LGBTQ persons are fully able—and welcome—to participate in all aspects of the life and ministry of Salem First United Methodist Church.

  1. What is the process for First United Methodist Church to become a Reconciling Congregations?

Becoming a Reconciling Congregation will involve five steps:

1: The Administrative Council will prepare a draft Reconciling Congregational Statement.

2: The draft statement will be widely distributed to members of the FUMC family.

3: A period of time will be provided to offer information, answer questions, facilitate discussions, and receive input on becoming a Reconciling Congregation.

The purpose of this period is to ensure everyone in the FUMC family is afforded an opportunity to provide input as they carefully and prayerfully consider whether FUMC will become a Reconciling Congregation.

4: The Administrative Council will prepare a final Reconciling Congregational Statement.

5: A church-wide vote will be taken on whether FUMC will become a Reconciling Congregation. If at least two-thirds of the voting members are in favor, we will become a Reconciling Congregation.

8. Who is eligible to vote and how will the vote be taken?

The Administrative Council has determined that anyone who self-identifies as a member of the Salem First United Methodist Church family is eligible to vote. The vote will be taken through a written ballot at a duly called congregational meeting. Prior to the congregational meeting, opportunities will be provided to submit a written absentee ballot for those who cannot be present at the congregational meeting.

  1. Will I still be welcome at Salem First United Methodist Church if I disagree with the outcome of the vote?

Most certainly, yes! Even now, members of the Salem First United Methodist Church family have wide ranging and diverging views on biblical doctrine, church policies, local and national politics, and world events, to name a few. This vote on becoming a Reconciling Congregation will not change the fact that we are all members of the same family. We will continue to learn from each other and value each other and enjoy being together regardless of our many differences.

  1. Where can I find more information about becoming a Reconciling Congregation?

An excellent online resource is Reconciling Ministries Network, a national organization working for the full inclusion and participation of all people in the life of the United Methodist Church. For more information, see www.rmnetwork.org.

  1. What is the timeline for us to consider becoming a Reconciling Congregation?

The draft Reconciling Statement was adopted by the Administrative Council on September 20, 2018. Throughout the month of October opportunities for feedback on the statement and individual conversations becoming a Reconciling Congregation on will be offered. Discussions are encouraged in all Sunday school classes, UMW circles, committee meetings, and other small groups. One or more question and answer sessions will be scheduled and a panel presentation is being considered as well. By Thursday, November 1, all feedback and any suggestion forms must be received by the church office. On Thursday, November 8, the Administrative Council will adopt the final Reconciling Statement that will be the subject of a congregation-wide vote. The final Reconciling Statement and absentee ballots will be made available on Friday, November 9. On Sunday, November 18, at 2:30 p.m. an All Church meeting will be held. All absentee ballots must be received prior to the start of the meeting. The ballot count and final results will be announced before the meeting concludes.

12. Is there someone I could talk to learn more about this?

Feel free to contact any of the following individuals if you would like to learn more about becoming a Reconciling Congregation or simply talk to a member of Salem First United Methodist Church about the proposal. Sarah Pitney, Laura Metzger,Lisa Rybloom, Wendy Herrett, Charlie Wallace, Cesie Schuermann, Marylin Edwards (503-930-6091), Renee Cuffe (503-949-0726), Heather Hawkins (503-802-8000), Diana Dickey (503-930-7139), or Steve Dickey (503-930-7142).

If you want to download a PDF of these questions and answers, click here.

Update #2 – September 2018

Moving Forward

Over the summer, First United hosted a fascinating Bible Study on “God and the Gay Christian” by Matthew Vines. The study was well attended and spurred lots of interesting conversation.

First United Methodist Church continues to move forward in the process to vote on becoming a Reconciling Congregation. We anticipate that there will be a vote on this in November, depending on the decision of the Ad Council. Becoming a Reconciling Congregation means welcoming every person into full inclusion into our church regardless of labels.

Pending the decision of the Ad Council, there will be much more information about this in the upcoming months. The Welcoming Committee wants to be sure that there is full and open communication regarding this issue. A newsletter with information regarding the Reconciling Process will be distributed, and we will strive to have other forums for discussion about this as well. Please watch for the newsletter and have a great fall!

Update #1 – April 2018

Building an Inclusive Church

FUMC hosted a training session on March 24th called “Building an Inclusive Church” for area Methodist churches that was very well received. The Welcoming Committee is also distributing an assessment survey to a sample of church attendees regarding how welcoming we are perceived to be.  We plan to update FUMC members periodically throughout this process.