St. Paul's United Methodist Church
Monday, September 16, 2019



We invite you to worship with us each Sunday!
You will be warmly welcomed as you experience
the love and the grace of God through our
Sunday worship services and teaching.



TWO SERVICES - 8:30 AM & 11:00 AM
The folks of St. Paul’s offer worship in which we honor tradition, are challenged with the Christian journey, celebrate the Word and share our stories in the intimate setting that is St. Paul's Church. Parents are encouraged to bring their children to worship for the Children’s Celebration at each service. If you and your family are searching for meaningful worship and discipleship, join us for these opportunities to explore your faith. St. Paul’s is a spiritual home for people of all ages and backgrounds and for families, traditional and non-traditional, where creativity and passion for the Gospel flourish and we are bound by the love of God that draws us together.

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September 12, 2019


Dear Saints at St. Paul’s,
I had hoped that a vote last Sunday about whether to offer sanctuary to Marisol and Genesis would settle the matter for us as a congregation. In fact, a 54-53 rejection of this form of mission highlights not only that we are of two minds as a congregation, but that we have more work to do to discover ways to faithfully respond to this invitation, if not in the particular way of offering sanctuary on our property.
For anyone who feels like this one-vote margin settles the matter, I invite you to think about how settled you would feel had the one-vote margin gone the other way. I cannot imagine moving forward based on such a deeply divided issue without further conversation, prayer, and exploration (and said as much at our July 21 forum with the Rev. Bob Coombe from First UMC of Germantown). Neither can I imagine simply dropping the invitation to respond to this particular (a mother and daughter seek asylum) and general (the urgent need for immigration reform our government ignores and exacerbates) crisis as if it never happened. Too many of us would rightly feel silenced and disenfranchised.
Just before we voted, one of our community asked what course we would follow if we rejected this mission invitation. By a single, fateful vote, we have decided not to offer sanctuary to Genesis and Marisol, should they need it, and I will stop advocating for St. Paul’s UMC to help them in this way. I sense, however, that most of us feel called to respond to this mother and her child in some way, if not sanctuary. One member, who argued against providing sanctuary, urged me on Sunday to ask Bishop Johnson if we could help Marisol and Genesis in other ways, when I reported our 54-53 vote. I am encouraged that others share this sentiment.
This week, I felt desolate. On Tuesday morning, I walked through Zoar Church, a nearby abandoned building I thought (in a kind of desperation) we might possible used to provide sanctuary to Marisol and Genesis. But the roof is in such a state of neglect, the task of repair and restoration would be a form of what one of my early spiritual mentors called pushing the river. In truth, this journey of the past nine weeks has felt a lot like pushing the river, and dancing a foolish, ridiculous dance alone. Yesterday, I called a colleague to report the result of our vote, feeling ashamed and defeated. During our conversation, he told me that he believes his church can offer them sanctuary, and that he would speak with our Bishop about it. I cannot describe the feeling of relief and thanksgiving I felt as we spoke together, and a conversation about the death of a dream became the resurrection of that dream.
Who knows what may happen? I invite you to join me this Sunday after the 11:00 worship to have a conversation about next steps for those of us who feel called to this mission and ministry of immigration reform and response. Perhaps, if this pastor and church I mentioned above do offer sanctuary to Marisol and Genesis, we can partner in ministry with them, helping to fund and build, cook and host. So, while I reluctantly accept our narrow rejection of a particular way of responding to this cry for help, I hope and pray that we will discover, as we walk in the way that leads to life together, other creative ways to respond to their needs as if they were our own.
You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10:19)
…I was a stranger and you welcomed me… (Matthew 25:35)
May the peace of Christ be with us all!