Hold Her Hand

July 2018 Connection

Hold Her Hand
Ponderings On Annual Conference and Beyond
We have recently returned from the Annual Conference that was held in Traverse City, Michigan. Special thanks to Tom and Carol Cerny and Susie Hagenstein for being our Lay Members to this Conference, soon to become the Michigan Annual Conference in January of 2019.
 
The work of the Annual Conference includes numerous worship services, legislative sessions, plenary sessions, conference reports from different boards and agencies, and the reading of appointments of clergy to churches and ministries beyond the local church. The conference also votes on resolutions that cause lively debate as voices on both sides need an opportunity to be heard. It also involves a memorial time of remembering the names of those who have joined the church triumphant and retirement celebrations. Our very own Pat England and his wife Lisa were honored this year as they head off to retirement in Holland, MI. Reverend Laurie and I had a chance to chat with them both about their upcoming plans.
 
I was honored to share my experience at one of the legislative sessions that addressed funding grants for churches that are intentional in creating a plan for growth and outreach in their community. Susie and our District Superintendent, John Hice, were also in attendance at this same legislative session.
 
Recently, both clergy and laity of our denomination from annual conferences across the country have boldly made their concerns known about the current government policy and US Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ quoting of scripture to justify the treatment of separating children from their parents. The following is the statement made by United Methodist laity and clergy. I am quoting from the official United Methodist website:
 
“As his denomination, we have an ethical obligation to speak boldly when one of our members is engaged in causing significant harm in matters contrary to the Discipline on the global stage.” 
“More than 600 United Methodist clergy and laity say they are bringing church law charges against U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a fellow United Methodist, over a zero tolerance U.S. immigration policy — a policy that includes separating children from parents apprehended for crossing into the U.S. illegally.”
 
The group claimed in a June 18 statement that Sessions, a member of a Mobile, Alabama, church, violated Paragraph 2702.3 of the denomination’s Book of Discipline.
 
Specifically, the group accuses him of child abuse in reference to separating young children from their parents and holding them in mass incarceration facilities; immorality; racial discrimination and “dissemination of doctrines contrary to the established standards of doctrines of The United Methodist Church.”
If you remember my sermon on June 17th, I referred to the Bible passage that Jeff Sessions used, Roman’s 13, “to obey the laws of the government.” It was taken from Roman’s and used by the Romans of Jesus’ time to attempt to enact the unjust laws of the land going against the morality of Jesus teachings. Let’s be careful not to proof text and quote scripture out of context for our own purposes.
 

We will see how this action by the United Methodist’s unfolds on the national stage. But please remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 19:14, “let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the kingdom of heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” It has been proven over a long period of time that children forcibly removed from their parents experience long lasting trauma. I reference you to history: the holocaust Children, the Native Indian Children, and the African American Children. The Consequences are deeply negative and life altering. Children must not be used as political pawns by adults in any context! Lord help us all!

Faithfully Yours, 

 
Rev. Julius E. Del Pino, PhD, 
 
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