Learn. Love. Grow Together.

I have been asked to cover the blog this week by Pastor Lynn, who has been on vacation. She’s asked me to write about the “Learn. Love. Grow Together.” seminar scheduled for 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 2.

I’m not sure where to begin. As you may know, our United Methodist Church is in disagreement across our connection regarding full inclusion of people who identify as a part of the LGBTQIA+ community.

We know that not all at St. Mark’s are of one mind on this issue, either. The focus of the seminar is to present information that will give us a way of understanding the views of those who think differently than we do and to provide an opportunity to discuss these differences; but also to see how much we are all very similar.

I’d like to tell a story from my active ministry days as pastor appointed to a church in Phoenix. About 95% of the constituency were in the retired category.

A couple that was lesbian showed up one Sunday with their three children. The pre-teen was the guardian son of his aunt, one of the women. The two girls (ages 3 and 6) were adopted children of the other woman and her prior partner. The family was welcomed and became fully engaged in the various ministries of the church. Their attitude was that the church was their extended family; a place that would help them raise their children. Over the years they opened their home to foster children, eventually adopting two half-sisters and the 2-year-old cousin of the teenaged boy. This family remained a viable part of that church until they moved to Washington state to be nearer biological family.

I tell this story because of the non-judgmental attitude of the members of that church. They accepted the family without hesitation and with no private conversations with me about the lifestyle of “those people.” They entered into conversations with the couple about their lives, their faith, raising kids; and worked side by side in choir and with children, youth and adult Christian education; in missions – packing Thanksgiving food boxes and gleaning citrus trees in February for the food bank. They were simply part of our church family.

Our hope through this seminar is to introduce you to some folks (maybe even in the pew next to you!) who might be the “other” and different and to talk about who they really are. We want to focus on learning how we are more similar than different and reaffirm that we are all children of the same God. We hope it is an opportunity to share stories about how we’ve each experienced God’s love through church community and how we can do a better job of being a compassionate family together because of our similarities.
This is not about where anyone stands on the issue of inclusion but where we are as welcoming to all people.

Engaging in open conversation is the goal of “Learn. Love. Grow Together.” If you are not sure about full inclusion – come and learn. Let us remind ourselves of Jesus’ commandment to love one another. Let us grow together in doing the ministry here at St. Mark’s that God is calling us to do.

We are made whole and better as a community when we extend Christ’s love to everyone. Let’s talk about what such a welcome would look like. We look forward to sharing a morning with you on April 2! Please sign up here online or at the board in the courtyard Sunday mornings.

Judy Boroto, chairperson
LLGT Task Force

This week’s pastor Lenten video can be found here.

(Masks are encouraged.)

Join us for worship:

  • 8:30 a.m. Traditional service with choirs in Sanctuary and child care in Rm 15
  • 10 a.m. Modern worship service with Praise Team in Fellowship Hall
  • 10 a.m. Traditional service with choirs in Sanctuary
  • 10 a.m. Youth and children’s Sunday School and child care
  • 10 a.m. Livestream premieres on YouTube and Website

To access our livestream service:

  • From the main menu on our website click “Worship.”  -OR-
  • Go to YouTube and search for UMC St. Mark’s Oro Valley or use this link.