UM churches across our connection put this phrase (or tag) on their printed material and purchase prepared promotional materials through United Methodist Communications that promote their churches programming and ministry with this tag attached. It is meant to label us, define us, and hopefully intrigue others enough to check us out. Feedback to this point has revealed that many UMCs are hypocritical. Visitors do not find people in the UM churches they visit to be open-minded or hearted and that their presence is really not as welcome as the open door touts.

Friends, I believe this ‘tag’ to be an on-going opportunity for United Methodists to truly step up and out into our culture and specifically, in our neighborhood. It does not define any one pathway or population, it is a broad statement of inclusive, gospel grounded hospitality that is meant to extend both inward to those already present in ministry and community and to those who enter in for any reason.

I want to believe that our community values openness in its action and conversation. I asked to be a member here as many others have because of the open welcome and willingness to have open dialogue/ discernment. As your pastor, I will continue to lead in ways that foster trust in conversation on the hard topics with the invitation and mutual freedom to be wherever you need to be on the spectrum of the discussion.

It is my hope that no mind, no heart or any door would be locked in any direction. That through the Holy Spirit, we will all agree to grow together, however God leads us for the betterment of God’s kingdom, here on earth, as it is in heaven. I continue to give thanks for the privilege of serving in your midst, recognizing that I am a work in progress along with each of you. I trust that there is grace for all of my steps and missteps as they humanly happen with the best of intention for the ministry in this place.

Peace to each of you, Pastor Kelly

P.S. Lay Leadership will be activating the Church and Society Team this fall, inviting those who feel an interest or call to peace and justice issues to meet, offer educational and programming opportunities and guidance for our community. Pray about this new area of ministry focus and speak to the Lay Leadership team if you are interested. (Muriel Blackwood, Judie Liebenstein, Sara Lewin and Pastor Kelly)