For the second straight week, this article will serve as Messenger Lite!  Kathy Craig is still recovering at home from her knee surgery and has not received medical clearance to return to her regular office hours.  She hopes to come in part-time late next week.


This Sunday celebrates Christ’s baptism by John and reminds all Christians of our one baptism.  Our service on January 13 will be highlighted by “A Congregational Reaffirmation of the Baptismal Covenant.”  Worshipers will be invited to come forward and dip their hands into the baptismal font as a sign of their covenant renewal.  My sermon is entitled Being Christian on Purpose.  This year’s lectionary readings for Baptism of the Lord are Isaiah 43:1-7, Psalm 29, Acts 8:14-17, and Luke 3:15-17, 21-22.


All of us know what it feels like to be “stuck” – stuck in decision-making, in a job, in a relationship, or in our own personal and spiritual growth.  For decades, the United Methodist Church has been stuck on the sensitive issue of homosexuality.  Our official denominational position is that homosexual persons are “of sacred worth” and are to be welcomed into the Church, but that “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with the Scriptures” and that gay ordination and marriage are forbidden.  Some United Methodists want to uphold and strengthen the current guidelines; others want to broaden them and allow for full inclusion of the gay community in the life of the Church; many others are ambivalent or undecided.  The debate has continued from one General Conference to the next, with no resolution.  The Council of Bishops finally called for a Special Session of General Conference to seek “A Way Forward” from our stuck position.  It will be held from February 23-26 in St. Louis, Missouri. 

After worship on Sunday, January 13, UMC Elder Paul Hibbard and I will lead a Congrega-tional Meeting to preview the issues and choices facing the General Conference.  The Council of Bishops created a commission which has proposed three possible plans for breaking the impasse and allowing all of our churches and clergy to respond faithfully to this issue.  Those plans will be outlined at the Congregational Meeting. Please note:  the gathering will take place in Fellowship Hall; child care and activities will be provided in the Wesley Room.


Perhaps you’re asking:  why are United Methodists so divided on the issue of homosexuality?  How can individual Christians who are equally committed to the historic faith and biblical authority reach such differing conclusions?  To address these questions, the Adult Ministry Team will sponsor a study on “The Church and Homosexuality” over the four Tuesday nights of February (6:30 – 8:00 PM).  I will lead the sessions, assisted by Rev. Paul Hibbard.  Watch for more details in the coming weeks.


January 13 also marks the centennial birthday for one of our beloved members, Florence Brown.  Some of you may not know Florence because she has been unable to come to church for some time, but she remains very connected to WUMC and is always interested in our corporate life.  She will be feted by her family, close friends, and fellow Pomperaug Woods residents at a birthday party this Sunday afternoon.  The flowers in the sanctuary on January 13 will be in honor of Florence, and will be presented to her at the party. 


A few spaces are still open for tomorrow’s Behavioral Health Training workshop, which our church is hosting in partnership with the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and the Woodbury chapter of ASAP (Advocates for Substance Abuse Prevention).  This free seminar will address topics such as mental illness, addiction, and suicide.  Participants will become certified in QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer), a resource for suicide prevention.  The event will run from 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM in Fellowship Hall.  Breakfast snacks and lunch will be provided.  If you would like to attend, please contact Bud Behlman or me. 


Toby McGrath, co-chair of the Stewardship Committee and chair of the Finance Committee, presented an encouraging report on our church’s financial condition at the end of 2018.  She will provide details (as well as a word of thanks!) when the Messenger is published again.

Paul Hatch was elected Lay Delegate to a Special Annual Conference on March 16 and to the regular Annual Conference in June.  Thanks to Paul for his willingness to serve!

Linda Rockhill and Kathy Craig have graciously volunteered to co-chair the Community Events Committee, and were elected to represent that group on the Church Council.


Christian sympathy is extended to Ernest Corrao in the death of his wife, Mary Jo Corrao, in late October.  The Corraos have been in ill health and have resided in a local nursing home for several years.  We just became aware of Mary Jo’s death.

Grace and peace,