Newsletter 2024-05

Newsletter 2024-05

. 3 min read

As the Father has sent me,

so I send you.

John 20:21

I ask on behalf of those who will believe in me,

that they may all be one.

John 17:20–21

Friends and Partners,

This comes as my final pastoral letter to you. As you probably know by now, the bishops are moving Jean and I to York, Pennsylvania to serve Asbury United Methodist Church. Our last Sunday will be 16 June. Our farewell party is 9 June after the worship services, in our field complex and pavilions. Rev. Craig Gommer and his family, wife Cathy and daughter Caitlyn, are coming to Christ Church. His first Sunday is 7 July, and there will be a coffee and cake social between and after services on that date.

We practice a “sent ministry” in The United Methodist Church. At the time the sending comes, I’m not thrilled. And then, as I work through my grief, I remember that I am not simply sent by bishops and superintendents but by Jesus. Please pray for Jean and I as we prepare for and then step into this new challenge – job changes for Jean, smooth transitions and introductions, grieving what we leave behind, receiving new gifts in our new setting. We will be praying for you for the same things, praying that your partnership with Pastor Craig and his family will open up fresh opportunities and exciting gifts both for Christ Church and for your mission field.

I do want to take a moment to address the changes in United Methodist church law that come out of General Conference, particularly the removal of restrictions and prohibitions on clergy officiating same-sex or same-gender weddings and on clergy being in same-sex or same-gender marriages. As I write, we do not yet have implementation guidelines. We do know that neither clergy nor churches will be required to offer gay marriage, nor will they be sanctioned for refusing. The conscience and convictions of each party will be respected and honored. This is an effort to structure a way for the whole church to remain one, both as a human organization and as a holy organism, for our African and Philippino sisters and brothers to remain in fellowship and mission with us Americans, for our traditional and progressive folks to continue to worship and serve together. Jesus prayed for you and me “that [we] may all be one.” It is my prayer that whatever changes are ahead, we will find a way to move forward together as one family of faith. If you want to discuss any concerns with our council members, please feel free to reach out to them. See the bishops' announcement regarding these changes.

Finally, I want to thank you. I thank you for your financial generosity to the ministry of Christ Church. We have grown in numbers and grown in impact because you have given. I thank you for the numerous ways you serve. This afternoon, I saw one of you weeding our flower beds in preparation for planting geraniums. On Sunday, the new women’s group hosted their first mother’s tea and stuffed the community room to capacity. We have six persons preparing to make their membership vows – many of them coming because a friend or neighbor first invited them to worship or Bible study or mission. We are praying together and preparing meals for one another.

And, I want to thank you for the way you have supported me and my family. In the hardest days, you were there for me with your prayers, your embrace, your silence. In the best days, you overwhelmed us with your joy. Today, Jean’s mom called, “I got a card today from someone in the church. From the Care Team.” You have welcomed every member of our family with grace and love. I cannot thank you enough for this blessing.

With a full heart,

JP Bohanan, Pastor

10 May 2024