Reflections on the 2019 General Conference

As we drove home from Georgia following the death of Scott’s
mother, the special called session of the United Methodist General Conference
was wrapping up its business. This conference was to receive and to act upon
the report of a special “Commission on the Way Forward” whose sole mandate was to
seek to find a way for our denomination to continue to work together in faithfulness
amidst significant differences in our understanding of the issues surrounding
full inclusion of LGBTQI persons in the church. The conference and its results
have been widely (and sometimes misleadingly) reported on local and national
news. Some have applauded the results while others have expressed deep and
abiding hurt. In either case, we at Seaside continue to seek to serve
faithfully, welcoming all persons in love and in the hope of God’s grace.

Over the past weeks, we have been leading a series of discussions on the work of the Commission on the Way Forward entitled “Courageous Conversations.” We held these gatherings as a part of our mission at Seaside, “Building bridges to connect people in a transformative relationship with Jesus Christ.” These events were well attended and included discussion of the three plans submitted to General Conference as well as reflections on keeping the focus on the mission of the church, the 5 (or 6) texts in the Bible that actually address homosexuality, and biblical interpretation in general. We encouraged prayer for our church and promised continued discussion as the results of the General Conference became clear.

The first opportunity for continued discussion will be this Sunday, March 3 at 3:00 pm at the Lake Waccamaw United Methodist Church in Lake Waccamaw and is sponsored by the NC Annual Conference and will be led by members of the General Conference delegation. We will meet to carpool (or take a bus) from Seaside at 1:50 (2:00 departure—don’t be late). Several of our 16 delegates to General Conference will be present to share their thoughts and experiences at the Conference. Other delegates will be present at gatherings happening at the same time in other parts of Eastern NC. A second opportunity will occur at Seaside on March 12 at 6:30 pm. This event will also include members of our General Conference delegation.

The results of the General Conference are, at best, confusing both legislatively and practically. At the most basic level and by a margin of fewer than 60 votes, the church approved what was called the “Traditional Plan” which reaffirmed the existing language in the Book of Discipline that “homosexual persons, no less than heterosexual persons are persons of sacred worth in need of the grace of God,” that the United Methodist Church does not condone homosexuality and finds the practice incompatible with Christian teaching, that United Methodist clergy are prohibited from conducting marriages between same-sex couples, that UM property may not be used for such services, and that self-avowed and practicing homosexuals may not be ordained or appointed to serve as clergy in the United Methodist Church. At the same time we affirm that LGBTQI persons, as in the past, are welcome in our churches and allowed full participation in the life of the local church’s ministry—short of marriage and ordination. None of this represents a change to the position of the church prior to General Conference.

What the “Traditional Plan” did change this week was the addition of significant “teeth” to the language across all levels of the church, extending to expulsion of bishops, conferences, clergy and even local churches who might choose to take a principled exception to the church’s official position. Additional steps were added which would allow United Methodist clergy and churches an opportunity to leave “voluntarily” if, as a matter of conscience they feel that they cannot, in good conscience, remain within the fold. What troubled many, including some who supported the “Traditional” plan is the punitive nature of these penalties and what appears to some to be an attempt to push out those who do not agree with the supporters of the plan rather than to find a way to live together even amidst differences. It is this that many suggest is at odds with how we have historically lived together as United Methodists–a people who historically and proudly practice an open communion table.

The plan as passed still faces significant hurdles in the months ahead. Prior to and during the conference, the petitions that made up the three proposals were submitted to the Judicial Council (our church’s supreme court) for a preliminary review of their conformity with the United Methodist Church’s Constitution. A significant number of the petitions related to the “Traditional Plan” failed this preliminary review. These constitutional errors could have been corrected in the final legislation but were not. This leaves the result vulnerable to being over-ruled by the Judicial Council either as a whole or in its various parts. The final act of the conference was to submit the approved legislation to the Judicial Council for that review. The Judicial Council will meet in mid-April of this year.

Additionally, the conference revealed some of the complications of being a global church. Of the 12 million United Methodists, 4 million (roughly 1/3) live outside of the United States including in Liberia, Cote D’Ivoire, Zimbabwe and other West and Southern African nations, the Philippines, Russia and Europe. While the approved legislation was passed narrowly by the conference as a whole, it was opposed by the US delegates by nearly a 2/3 margin. And the General Conference will gather again in April of 2020.

So how should we respond? When we held our “Courageous Conversations” gatherings over the last several weeks, we emphasized the importance of living faithfully WITH each other, even in the midst of difference. We stressed that how we treat each other matters. And, in the final session, we talked about the fact that whatever way the Conference turned out, there would be some who were pleased and others who may feel wounded and hurt by the result. There would likely be persons (and churches) who would feel the need to leave the United Methodist Church—or the church altogether. Our counsel then, as now, is this: If you support the result of the conference, do not gloat or celebrate—doing do could cause harm you would never consciously intend. If you do not support the results of the conference, do not despair—despair is often called a sin against the Holy Spirit. In either case, seek out someone whose response differs from your own. Listen to them. Hear them. Respect them. In so doing, may your friendships grow in the fullness of grace. And finally, join us on March 3 at Lake Waccamaw UMC or on March 12 at 6:30 pm at Seaside so that together we may grow in our own understanding of our church and of God’s grace.

May the peace of Christ be with you all

Scott & Mary Jane

Courageous Conversations

Most of the new resources are up…

Upcoming and Ongoing:

2019 Called General Conference Information from

Latest News about the 2019 General Conference

General Conference Live-Stream (begins 2/23)

Week 3 Resources

Read the Traditionalist Proposal

Week 2 Homework and Resources:

Below are a list of links that will allow you to view and read “homework” documents:

Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball discusses the Connectional Conference Plan

The Commission Proposal for the Connectional Conference Plan (pdf)

A Talk by Pastor Adam Hamilton assessing the Way Forward
(This is the full video that wouldn’t play in the powerpoint on 2/6–He does a good job explaining the four key attitudes on this issue)

Bishops Discuss the “One Church Plan”
(This is the second video that would’t play in the powerpoint on 2/6)

North Carolina Conference Delegation information

Praying our Way Forward Website

Week 1 Homework:

View Bishop Ball’s Overview of the “One Church Plan”

The Commission Proposal for the “One Church Plan” (pdf)

View the Bishop’s Website on the “One Church” plan

Read the Chart comparing the three major proposals (after Judicial Council Review)

Read the Judicial Council Review of the three plans

Gil Rendle Video called “A Parable for Today” from Week 1 Powerpoint


A Collection of Videos on the Way Forward


Q&A Overview of 2019 General Conference

“Courageous Conversations”

“Courageous Conversations” will give interested persons in our congregation an opportunity to learn about and discuss the three options regarding the United Methodist Church’s relationship with LGBTQ persons to be presented at the Special Session of General Conference February 23-26.

There will be small group discussions, times of prayer, singing and study together. “Courageous Conversations” at Seaside begins January 30th – February 20th, each Wednesday from 1:30-3:00 p.m. You are encouraged to attend all four sessions as different information will be presented each week.

Employment Opportunities

Position Announcement: Office Assistant

Seaside is an active and engaged United Methodist Congregation in Sunset Beach, North Carolina. This growing congregation of 1000 members seeks a committed and energetic individual to handle front office, clerical and data entry duties.

Approximately 21 hours per week.
The Office Assistant is one of the first persons many people will see as they enter the church office. Therefore, we seek a person who exhibits positive energy and will represent Seaside to the public in a grace-filled way.

The Office Assistant will work with the Office Manager, Director of Communications and the pastors, to handle phone calls and in-person inquiries, weekly worship attendance data entry, and member/visitor profile maintenance in both the church data management system and church directory. The Office Assistant will be responsible for the “Path to Membership” for those who wish to become members at Seaside. Additional duties include assisting the pastors, other staff and ministry team members with office related and production (copying, printing, folding, etc.) tasks.

The successful candidate should evidence flexibility as
well as an ability to work well with the public, congregation, volunteers and
staff in a fast-paced environment. Applicants should possess a strong
background in the use of Microsoft Word, a working knowledge of Excel, and willingness
to learn Microsoft Publisher. We expect high standards for quality and
attention to deadlines.

Please submit resume and cover letter to:

Seaside United Methodist Church
Attn: Kathleen Thompson
1300 Seaside Road SW
Sunset Beach, North Carolina 28468

Or email to:

A printable copy of this announcement is available here.

Position Announcement: Facility Manager and Custodian

Seaside is an active and engaged United Methodist
Congregation in Sunset Beach, North Carolina. This growing congregation of 1000
members seeks a committed and energetic individual to handle facility
management and light custodial duties.

Approximately 25 hours per week.
Facility Manager: Monitor vendor contracts and grant access to relevant personnel for any work to be completed. Oversee outside contractors and repair workers. Evidence a working knowledge of various building systems such as HVAC, plumbing, electrical, etc., and the ability to provide routine maintenance of same. The Facility Manager will work with the pastors, trustees, office manager and staff to maintain a list of ongoing projects and provide a report of progress/completion to the trustees at their monthly meeting.

Custodian: Responsibilities include routine custodial and
cleaning duties as well as maintenance and light repair of the physical plant. Support
the pastors and staff by insuring the facility is set up for scheduled meetings
and events.

The successful candidate should evidence flexibility as
well as an ability to work well with the public, congregation, ministry teams and
staff in a fast-paced environment.

Physical Requirements: Ability to lift to 50 lbs. Ability
to climb ladder to perform tasks in all parts of the facility.

Please submit resume and cover letter to:

Seaside United Methodist Church
Attn: Kathleen Thompson
1300 Seaside Road SW
Sunset Beach, North Carolina 28468

Or email to:

A printable copy of this announcement is available here.

Lessons & Carols

Image result for lessons and carols

Come to this year’s annual Seaside Family Christmas Celebration on Sunday, December 2 at 5:00 p.m.! This year’s theme will be a service of “Lessons & Carols” which will be led by our Joyful Noise Children’s Choir, our Handbell Ensemble as well as others. 

Bring an appetizer to share following the program at a reception in the Fellowship Hall. Make this a part of your holiday celebrations this year!

Flood Buckets for Hurricane Florence Relief

There is an immediate and ongoing need for UMCOR cleaning buckets for relief work in Brunswick County and the surrounding area! If you want to do something to help that has an immediate impact, please consider donating part or all of a cleaning bucket. The list of requested items is very specific, so we ask that no substitutions be made. Any donated items are appreciated. In addition to donating full buckets or items that are on the list, cash donations (in the form of a check to Seaside) may be made for the Early Response Team to purchase the needed items.

Click here for the updated list. Items should be brought to Seaside and placed under the UMCOR Flood Bucket Display.

The UM Harbor District is actively working on identifying needs and coordinating efforts throughout our area. While some work will require ERT badges (have attended ERT training), there will also be other areas where support will be required. As this evolves, we will keep you informed. If you have any questions, please contact Nancy Moon at

Live stream the 2018 NC Annual Conference

AC 2018 Livestream

Music Ministry Team Addition

Music is at central part of our ministry here at Seaside. It infuses our worship with power and draws us in to a deeper connection with God both by teaching and by helping us to center our spirits during worship. We are blessed with many gifted musicians in our Choir, Praise Team and our numerous ensembles. But the leadership of this ministry gives it shape and sets the tone.
For more than a dozen years, Seaside’s music team of Kathryn Parker and Lynn Enzor have overseen enormous growth. The Praise Team’s growing repertoire and the increasing demands for accompaniment for the choir mean that the absence of even one of our leaders creates a bind. Add to that the demands on Lynn in her “other life” as a bank manager, and we began to recognize the need for a third person in Music Ministry leadership.
After more than a year of discussions and search, we are pleased to announce the addition of Janette Schroeder to our Music staff beginning May 15th. Janette joins us as Assistant Music Director for Traditional Worship. She will be playing organ as well as piano and will help with the duties of directing our choirs, handbells and other ensembles. Janette has an extensive background in music ministry and we are excited to include her in our program.
The addition of Janette will allow Lynn to focus her considerable gifts on the oversight of the praise team ministry and our 9:30 worship service. Her new title will be Assistant Music Director for Contemporary Worship. Of course Kathryn continues to capably fill her role as team leader and Minister of Music for the church. Janette will provide accompaniment and other roles at 8:00 and 11:00 each week.  Of course each is capable of pinch-hitting when needed!
Thank you for what I know will be a warm welcome for Janette and for your continued support of our music ministry.

Labyrinth Site Dedicated

The​ ​Labyrinth​ ​Ministry​ ​Team​ ​of​ ​Seaside​ ​UMC​ ​has​ ​been​ ​working​ ​for​ ​almost​ ​2​ ​years​ ​planning​ ​for​ ​the​ ​construction​ ​of​ ​a​ ​labyrinth​ ​on​ ​the​ ​church​ ​grounds.​ ​A​ ​labyrinth​ ​is​ ​a​ ​walking​ ​meditation​ ​tool​ ​where​ ​you​ ​walk​ ​a​ ​winding​ ​path​ ​to​ ​the​ ​center​ ​and​ ​back​ ​out.​ ​There​ ​is​ ​only​ ​one​ ​way​ ​in​ ​and​ ​out.​ ​You​ ​use​ ​it​ ​as​ ​a​ ​time​ ​for​ ​meditation​ ​and​ ​reflection.

Sunday,​ ​April​ ​29​ ​some​ ​members​ ​of​ ​Seaside​ ​UMC​ ​gathered​ ​in​ ​the​ ​yard,​ ​by​ ​the​ ​sanctuary,​ ​​ ​where​ ​the​ ​labyrinth​ ​is​ ​going​ ​to​ ​be​ ​located,​ ​and​ ​had​ ​a​ ​Blessing​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Ground​ ​service​ ​for​ ​our​ ​new​ ​labyrinth.​ ​Construction​ ​of​ ​the​ ​seven​ ​circuit​ ​labyrinth​ ​is​ ​scheduled​ ​to​ ​begin​ ​the​ ​week​ ​of​ ​May​ ​6,​ ​weather​ ​permitting.​ ​Carolina​ ​Creations​ ​will​ ​start​ ​by​ ​preparing​ ​the​ ​ground​ ​for​ ​the​ ​labyrinth​ ​and​ ​the​ ​landscaping.​ ​Then​ ​they​ ​will​ ​come​ ​and​ ​pour​ ​the​ ​30​ ​foot​ ​concrete​ ​slap​ ​on​ ​which​ ​the​ ​labyrinth​ ​will​ ​be​ ​etched.​ ​Then​ ​the​ ​landscaping​ ​will​ ​be​ ​put​ ​in.​ ​​ ​The​ ​entire​ ​process​ ​should​ ​take​ ​about​ ​1​ ​month.​ ​Watch​ ​this​ ​space.​ ​We​ ​will​ ​add​ ​pictures​ ​showing​ ​progress​ ​of​ ​the​ ​project​ ​as​ ​we​ ​go​ ​along.​ ​When​ ​the​ ​labyrinth​ ​is​ ​completed​ ​there​ ​will​ ​be​ ​a​ ​Dedication​ ​Service​ ​to​ ​which​ ​the​ ​congregation​ ​and​ ​community​ ​will​ ​be​ ​invited.​ ​

[Photo Gallery Below]


A Sew-In for Haiti

On the afternoon of May 1st at Seaside UMC, fifty three (53) women cut, pinned, sewed, and ironed over 175 pillowcase dresses for girls and women in Haiti. The workshop was sponsored by Seaside’s United Methodist Women but women from the entire area participated.

The dresses will be divided between three mission trips this summer. Martha Worsley, UMW Harbor District Vice President will take half of the dresses with her when she goes to the Children’s Village of Duque orphanage in Haiti in early June.

Kim Curry and other members of Seaside United Methodist Church will take the remaining dresses with them on two mission trips to Haiti at the end of June. Kim will be going to Cazale for the Real Hope for Haiti Mission on June 22 and then will join our Seaside members (Pastor MJ, Mary Featherstone, Ken and Deb Wensel) in the village of Mizak on June 29th where they will be helping with a free eye glass clinic. Please keep all these folks in your prayers.