The Importance of Clarity – LGBTQI

This may be nearly my shortest blog post ever. But given the continued fight over the place of LGBTQI persons in the United Methodist Church, I just want to say clearly without ambiguity that I am an ally of the LGBTQI community. 

What I mean is that I believe in full inclusion of LGBTQI people in the life of the Church at all levels. I believe God loves all, welcomes all and calls all into his joyful participation in the life of the Church.

If you are a friend of mine you probably already knew this about me. But now is not a time for wishy washiness, or equivocation from any of us who care. Now is the time for people to say what they believe and hold in their hearts and say it clearly, unwaveringly, and lovingly.

God loves all. And, all means all.

I don’t expect everyone to agree with me nor do I need everyone to agree with me. But I do expect that we each respect each other and each other’s understandings of the faith, the Bible and the work of the gospel. I believe my calling to be obedient to the Holy Scriptures and to Jesus Christ require me to take this stand.

“Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may. Herein all the children of God may unite, notwithstanding these smaller differences.” – John Wesley, founder of Methodism.

I hope that was abundantly clear. 🙂

Timothy D. Bonney, OSL

Milestones of God’s Grace

I started this blog almost three years ago to talk about God leading me to change the direction of my ministry and became a pastor in the United Methodist Church.  For those of you who have read my posts you probably have noticed that my posting has been much less frequent in recent months.  Well, life has just been both good and busy.  

I have been blessed these past nine months to serve in my new appointment at Grace UMC in Sioux City.  It has been a lot of fun getting to know the people of Grace, learning my way around Sioux City, and working in ministry with my new charge.  As the same time I have been continuing the process of working with the Board of Ordained Ministry of the Iowa Conference of the United Methodist Church to complete my transfer of orders to the UMC and seek recognition as an Elder in Full Connection.  

Part of the requirements of receiving such a recommendation involved me completing courses in UMC history, doctrine, and polity.  I completed all of those classes in February of this year.  Also in February I had what will probably be my last meeting with an examining committee of the Board of Ordained Ministry.  And I am pleased to say that the BoOM has recommended me for full membership in the Iowa Conference!

This means that my name will come before the Clergy Session of the Conference in June for a vote.  If I receive an affirmative vote from those eligible to vote in the Clergy Session I will be an Elder in Full Connection in the UMC.  

For me this is a milestone in a lot of ways.  It is a milestone in completing the process with the BoOM.  In that process I felt very encouraged and affirmed while the examining committee members continued to ask good questions, seek understanding of my ministry and calling, and make decisions about my progress in the process.

It is also a milestone for me because, as I’ve shared many times now, I have felt for a long time that God wanted me to be a United Methodist serving God in a UM local churches.   I’ve shared here in this blog how I believe God nudged me and guided me over the years into a Wesleyan understanding of the Christian faith which led me to seek out the UMC as my church home.

Each Christian tradition has its strengths.  But what has continued to attract me and continues to pull me into the UMC has been John Wesley’s teaching and understanding of Grace.  God’s gracious love, described by Wesley as Prevenient, Justifying, and Sanctifying continues to capture my heart and my imagination.  What Wesley called the scripture way of salvation with its emphasis on the work of God’s grace in each of our lives throughout our lives colors and enriches everything that is best about United Methodists.  

I am also empowered and enriched by the sacramental theology of the UMC.  I was reminded again this Sunday in Communion how much my heart is warmed by the liturgy of the Great Thanksgiving and in the breaking of the bread and sharing of the cup.  There is something so right and so heavenly to bend down on one knee so that a small child can take a piece of bread and dip it in the cup with a joyful smile on her face as she is told that the body of Christ was given for her!  There is such Holy Spirit power in the voices of the congregation declaring as one that “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again!”  Some Sundays I can only think to myself, “it just doesn’t get any better than this!”

Yes indeed, I am deeply honored that the clergy of the Iowa Conference will consider my credentials this June, and I am deeply blessed to be serving the Lord in the Iowa Annual Conference of the UMC and here in Sioux City at Grace Church.  I am very glad to be a United Methodist!

May each of you be blessed as we continued to celebrate the Risen Christ in these Great Fifty Days of the Easter Season.  “Christ the Lord is Risen Today!  Alleluia!”

I Believe….

I am in the third week on a sermon series in Transformation Worship at First UMC Cedar Falls called “I Believe…”  It is a sermon series based on the outline of doctrines taught in the Apostles’ Creed.  (If you want to remind yourself of the content of the creed click on the tab “ecumenical creeds” at the top of my blog.)  The series is in a response to a request that I preach about basic Christian beliefs.  I cannot think of a simpler easier to understand summary than the Apostles’ Creed.

A lot of Christians do not realize that in the same time frame in which the ecumenical creeds were being formulated to answer doctrinal issues of the day the church was also deciding which books would end up in the canon.  The canon is the list of books which are found in the Bible.  In particular the Nicene Creed and issues around the incarnation of Christ were very much a part of the discussion at that time.

The canon didn’t just drop out of the sky.  The Church chose books which were in use of the church, were believed to have Apostolic authorship or connections, and which taught the faith of Jesus Christ as taught by the church, Christ, and his Apostles.

The Discipline of the United Methodist Church declares that the scriptures are the primary source for our doctrine and that we utilize scripture, tradition, experience, and reason as we work out our faith life together.  It is important that we have these bedrock teachings on which to give a basic foundation to our faith.   Certainly there is a lot of room for differences of viewpoint and understanding.  But there needs to be a basic outline of agreement which defines what it means to be Christian just as the Articles of Religion and the Confession of Faith of the EUB outline for us what it means to be United Methodists.

I believe that these faith statements are vital because connect us with the historical church, they remind us of the priorities of faith of the early church, and they give us a framework on which to begin the difficult and important task of Biblical interpretation.

In the coming weeks I will be preaching about Christ’s death and resurrection, the Holy Spirit, what it means to be part of the holy catholic church, and finally the eternal life which we can all experience through the love and grace of Christ.

While someone may think that a sermon series of basic Christian doctrine could be dull, it should not be.  We should be excited to talk about what we believe and how it has changed and is changing our lives!

I Believe!