At Onalaska UMC, we love all people unconditionally, and we mean ALL! Jesus encourages us to love God and our neighbor and warns us not to judge.
While the global United Methodist denomination continues to debate full inclusion of LGBTQ people, Onalaska United Methodist Church has been engaged since summer 2019 in the Reconciling process, an extended period of education, prayer, and discernment around this topic. Our goal is to adopt a Reconciling Statement clarifying our full welcome of all people.
This page compiles many of the resources we’ve shared during our journey as a congregation.
Please read the Q&A page, which contains answers to many common questions asked by parishioners. Or contact Pastor Park Hunter (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Kelly Dunn (email@example.com), co-chair of our Reconciling Team.
Reconciling Statement (proposed)
This statement will be voted on by OUMC members at a church conference September 27, 2020. The conference process is described below.
- At Onalaska United Methodist Church, we believe in the teachings of Jesus: unconditional love, compassion, and justice.
- All persons are created in God’s image and are of sacred worth. We affirm and celebrate persons of all ages, gender identities and expressions, sexual orientations, family structures, abilities, economic statuses, races, ethnicities, national origins, and heritages.
- We honor the unique gifts of all persons including LGBTQ+ individuals and their call to serve according to their spiritual gifts. The body of Christ shares one baptism and God’s table is open to all.
- We support the ordination of LGBTQ+ individuals and welcome them to serve our Church.
- We will open our doors to celebrate the weddings of all prepared couples who, in consultation with our pastor, seek to commit their lives to one another with the blessing of our Creator.
- We are the people of open hearts, open minds, and open doors. In the words of John Wesley, “We can love alike, though we may not think alike.”
The Church Conference will take place Sunday, September 27. Rev. Karen Bankes, NC10 Circuit Leader, is presiding. The conference will have two parts, discussion and voting. This statement was developed during an extensive process with all interested church members encouraged to provide input. No changes to the statement can be made at the conference; the vote is a simple yes or no.
2:00-3:00pm Discussion – On Zoom and in the sanctuary. We can have up to 50 people present with masks and social distancing; contact the office by Thursday 9/24 at 2:00pm to request an in-person spot. The Zoom link is available by email from the office, and will be announced in an eNews. All members and friends of the church may participate in discussion.
3:00-5:00pm In-Person Vote – Per the Book of Discipline, there is no absentee voting; all votes must be cast in-person during this period. Only full members of OUMC may vote. Drive-through voting will be available under the covered drop-off. For those who are unable to drive to church, pick-up of your vote between 3:00-5:00pm may be arranged by contacting the church office by Thursday 9/24 at 2:00pm. Written ballots will be available at the church, or download here…
Results will be posted Sunday after 5:00pm on the church website and Facebook page, announced during the week in the eNews, and during church Sunday, October 4. Votes will be counted by the church conference secretary and at least one other person. OUMC leaders have set a 75% minimum Yes vote for adoption.
God Moments are a regular part of worship at Onalaska United Methodist Church. The following members of our congregation have shared their faith experiences during our Reconciling process.
Being an Ally (YouTube) – Nancy Dull, June 30, 2019
Room to Believe (YouTube) – Jack Evans, September 29, 2019
A Family Journey (YouTube) – Jan & Bob Mattson, October 6, 2019
Call and Challenge (YouTube) – Ruth Halstead, October 13, 2019
An Altar for All (YouTube) – Kelly & Loretta Dunn, October 20, 2019
Gay in Church (YouTube) – Megan Barbian, October 27, 2019
Loving Family (YouTube) – Marion Hanson, January 26, 2020
Faithful Shift (YouTube) – Paul Bratsch, February 16, 2020
Notes From the Field (YouTube) – Paul Brown, March 1, 2020
Gay? Fine By Me (YouTube) – Megan Pence, March 22, 2020
Youth on Reconciling (YouTube) – Grace & Grace, September 20, 2020
“The Methodist Way” Sermon Series
Prequel: We’ve Got to Talk (YouTube) – Rev. Wesley White, June 9, 2019
Rev. White recalls a moment when United Methodist Church leaders realized they had to begin talking and listening to each other on the subject of LGBTQ inclusion. The miracle of Pentecost is about God helping us to speak and to hear each other clearly. Rev. White talks about the history of our discussion in the United Methodist Church.
The Methodist Way (YouTube) – Rev. Park Hunter, October 6, 2019
Why reconciling? Why now? Because we can’t sweep it under the rug – Jesus tells us to be reconciled with those we disagree with. Introducing a Methodist framework for thinking and praying our way to a Reconciling decision on LGBTQ inclusion, based on John Wesley’s Three Rules. (manuscript, PDF)
Do No Harm (YouTube) – Rev. Park Hunter, October 13, 2019
John Wesley’s first rule for Methodists is “Do no harm.” Unfortunately, the church has hurt LGBTQ Christians. We should not cause others who claim the name of Christ to stumble. We put the gotcha scriptures in context with a Wesleyan framework, and the help of the Holy Spirit. (manuscript, PDF)
Do All the Good (YouTube) – Rev. Park Hunter, October 20, 2019
John Wesley’s second rule for Methodists is “Do good.” LGBTQ Christians have born fruit and enriched the life of the Church. How can our church do all the good we can in partnership with the LGBTQ community? (manuscript, PDF)
Stay in Love With God (YouTube) – Rev. Park Hunter, October 27, 2019
John Wesley’s third rule for Methodists is “Stay in love with God.” Wesley intended for us to experience God’s love through worship and fellowship together. “Though we may not think alike, may we not love alike?” We need to keep the main thing the main thing. (manuscript, PDF)
The Way Forward, post-GC2019 (Word) – two-page summary of the results of General Conference 2019 and OUMC’s response.
The Way Forward, pre-GC2019 (Word) – two-page summary of the various proposals for General Conference 2019, and range of interpretation on LGBTQ issues and theology.
Reconciling Images Video Study Flyer (PDF) – five-part study using movies and TV shows to examine faith and LGBTQ culture. Discussion guides include one page for class discussion, and several pages of notes by the leaders on the videos: 1 Philadelphia / 2 Queer Eye / 3 Matthew Shephard Story / 4 One Day at a Time / 5 Nanette (PDFs)
What Does the Bible Say About LGBTQ People? (PDF) – a pamphlet briefly summarizing the key scripture verses, with pro and con interpretations.
Speakers’ Panel on the Future of the UMC (Facebook video) – Onalaska UMC hosted a wide-ranging panel discussion January 25, 2019 with leaders from a variety of perspectives across the conference.
Reconciling Conversation Guide (Word) – prompts for small group conversations near the end of our process.
Reconciling Listening Guide (Word) – prompts for a church listening session near the end of our process.
UM News – The United Methodist Church’s official news source. (https://www.umnews.org/en/category/general-conference)
For many more links to Methodist groups with a variety of perspectives on this topic, see answer #16 on our Q&A page.
For over a year Onalaska United Methodist Church has engaged in a Reconciling Process designed to facilitate conversation and give everyone a chance to share input. Here are some of the milestones along the way:
- UMC General Conference 2019 narrowly approves the Traditional Plan, enacting harsher penalties on pastors who conduct same-sex weddings and ordination of LGBTQ clergy.
- OUMC Council votes unanimously to emphasize our vision that we “love all people unconditionally.”
- OUMC Council votes to begin the Reconciling process
- Reconciling Team formed, begins monthly meetings open to all for planning of process
- Congregation surveyed
- OUMC hosts NC District Conversation about GC2019
- God & the Gay Christian book study
- 1 & Done: Father Jerry Anderson, Ordained By Angels: Memoirs of an AIDS Chaplain
- Reconciling Images video Bible study
- “For the Bible Tells Me So” video discussion
- Jack Evans God Moment
- Sermon series: Park Hunter: “The Methodist Way,” “Do No Harm,” “Do All the Good,” and “Stay in Love With God.”
- Walking the Bridgeless Canyon Sunday morning adult study
- Shower of Stoles exhibit
- Bob & Jan Mattson, Ruth Hallstead, Kelly & Loretta Dunn, and Megan Barbian God Moments
- Making Sense of Bible book study
- “What Does the Bible Say about LGBTQ People?” pamphlet available
- Reconciling Statement first draft published
- 1 & Done: Reconciling Conversations
- OUMC hosts Future of UMC Panel Discussion
- Reconciling Statement first draft shared with Church Council
- Marion Hanson God Moment
- 1 & Done: Leader Listening Session
- Reconciling Statement second draft published & shared with Church Council
- Paul Bratsch God Moment
- OUMC hosts 7 Rivers LGBTQ 101 and Panel Discussion
- Reconciling Statement finalized and published
- Church Conference to vote on Reconciling Statement (postponed until September due to COVID-19)
- Paul Brown and Megan Pence God Moments
- UMC General Conference 2020 (postponed until September 2021 due to COVID-19)
- Reconciling Q&A meeting to update members on process
- Youth God Moment
- Church Conference September 27 to vote on Reconciling Statement (rescheduled from March because of COVID-19)