Sanctuary
(901) 726-4104
1207 Peabody Ave. Memphis, TN 38104
(901) 726-4104
1207 Peabody Ave.
Memphis, TN 38104
Sunday Services

Children's Atrium–9:15 AM

Adult Classes-9:30 AM

Youth Classes–9:30 AM

Sunday Worship–10:50 AM

The Way

Friday evening service begins at 6:00 PM.

LGBTQ Inclusivity

Welcome Statement

St. John's welcomes everyone. Our hearts, minds, and doors are open to people of all ages, races, nationalities, sexual orientations, gender identities, theological identities, economic status, disabilities, and sojourn on the way to recovery and wholeness. We are a diverse community whose discipleship to Jesus Christ is  demonstrated through our deep commitment to servant ministry. Welcome Home!

Pastoral Letter: Response to 2016 General Conference, Human Sexuality

To the people called Methodists who are St. John’s United Methodist Church, grace to you and peace. We, your appointed pastoral leaders, join our voices in response to the recent General Conference and invite our parish into a deeper commitment of advocacy for a Church that is fully inclusive.

In the days following General Conference there is a ray of hope that there can be a Methodist witness that is fully inclusive of our LGBTQ sisters and brothers. We ask you to join us in prayer for our Council of Bishops and the Commission they form to craft the way forward. Yet the fruit of their work is several years away at best. We agree that one more day of the current language of the Book of Discipline is one day too many in that it diminishes the power and impact of the Wesleyan witness, it perpetuates harm to everyone, and it directly pains members of our congregation who are LGBTQ and their families. These women and men, disciples of Jesus, vital participants in the life, character and mission of our congregation suffer at the hands of the very Church that at once calls them people of “sacred worth” but “incompatible.” The State of Tennessee recognizes their right to marry, but their service cannot take place in the sanctuary of the Church they love and support. Their clergy are not permitted to perform their service. And should they feel called to pursue the vocation of ordained ministry, they cannot do so openly in The United Methodist Church.

Harm is also done to those who are not LGBTQ who long to be a part of an inclusive Church and whose patience for the day their beloved United Methodist Church becomes truly open is waning. We recognize that The United Methodist Church is not of one mind on this question. We also recognize that not everyone at St. John’s is either. However, we cannot ignore the real harm done to people we love and serve, and we believe that those who struggle still with this issue do not wish harm upon their fellow congregants.

Over the next year, we invite our congregation to further conversation and deeper reflection upon what it means to be an inclusive church. We also believe our overt witness to advocate for inclusion can be instructive for other United Methodist Churches to encourage them to engage the question. To that end, we offer several opportunities to do just that:


• “An Act of Love,” the documentary about Rev’d Frank Schaefer’s journey will be screened on Tuesday, June 7, 6:30 p.m. at Trinity United Methodist Church. We are co-sponsoring the screening with Trinity. There will be time for conversation following. A number of St. John’s members appear in the film.
• We believe it is time for St. John’s to revisit becoming part of the Reconciling Ministries Network and commend that question to our Church Council.
• We are scheduling some level of public demonstration and witness inviting our membership to participate.
• In February, 2017, St. John’s will host a time of teaching and conversation featuring Bishop Sally Dyck of the Northern Illinois Conference and our own Bishop McAlilly. We expect to make this a Conference level event. Bishop Dyck will also preach at St. John’s on the Sunday of that weekend.

We believe St. John’s opportunity to make a witness is profound during an historic time in the larger Methodist movement. We are committed to shepherd our congregation through this season. We give thanks to God for the opportunity to serve you, and believe that in the end, all will be well. Signed on this the Second Day of June in the Year of our Lord Two Thousand Sixteen--

Johnnys Signature Renee Signature John Signature

Memphis Annual Conference I

St. John's was well represented! Our awesome lay delegates donned the rainbow for love and equality! ‪#‎YallMeansAll‬

Memphis Annual Conference II

One evening during a break in the Annual Conference proceedings, St. John's coordinated a special screening of "An Act of Love" at Grace United Methodist Church in Jackson. Beverages were provided and pizza was shared! While the film was released in advance of General Conference, it leads us to a place of awareness and hope as our Council of Bishops begin the work of forming a Commission to address human sexuality. 

The documentary chronicles the story of UMC pastor, Frank Schaeffer, who chose to marry his gay son and partner despite the prohibitions on gay marriage in the United Methodist Church. 

Prior to Annual Conference in Memphis, Trinity United Methodist Church and St. John’s hosted a screening in Memphis, resulting in good interest and conversation. 

Litany for St. John's Prayer Vigil for Victims of Violence

"Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words." Romans 8:26

How do we respond to violence in our homes, our communities, our nation, our world? How do we deal with that reality? First, we pray. But let us not only pray for comfort and understanding and peace. Let us pray for holy boldness, for the courage to name injustice and to work for change. Let us not only talk of Love but demonstrate Love. Let the Church, God’s Church, respond. Below is a litany written for our St. John’s Prayer Vigil for Victims of Violence. May Love prevail.

Peace,

Renee

______

Litany Against Violence

We gather to pray, as we try and make sense of senseless loss.

We gather to pray, as we grapple with the ever increasing reality of   terror and hate.

We gather to pray, as we hope and long for peace.

We gather to pray, numb, outraged, fearful, and profoundly sad.

We gather to pray, to shake our fists at God or to kneel humbly before our creator...

    Either way, we ask, we beg… How long, Lord? How long?

 

So, together we pray.

We pray for our LGBTQ neighbors in Florida who, seeking an evening of fun and celebration, community and sanctuary in a club, were killed or wounded because of who they are and who they love. May the grief of a community, a nation, a world propel us toward a season of healing and an unwavering commitment that love will prevail.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer. 

We pray for the families and friends who grieve the loss of their loved ones, for the families and friends of those wounded as they begin the long road toward recovery, for first responders, and for medical personnel who aided and will aid in the days, months, and years ahead. May we not allow fading headlines to lead to fading resolve. Let us build community with unending acts of caring and kindness. Let our love for God and our love for neighbor be demonstrated with every word and with every action.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for the attacker and his family, and for others who are living with hatred and murderous thoughts and the access to weapons with the overwhelming capacity to kill. May we be bold in advocating for common sense gun laws. May we also be proactive in meeting and building relationships with neighbors of differing religions- neighbors praying just as fervently for peace as we are now.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for the church universal, the church local, and ourselves, for failing to offer true church, true community, true sanctuary for our neighbors of all sexualities. May we be clear in our language and in our deeds, stating and demonstrating that people of all sexualities are of sacred worth. May we listen well to the voices and stories of our LGBTQ neighbors. May we all work together to advocate for full inclusion in the United Methodist Church, for true welcome and sanctuary, for all God's children.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

And while we are shocked by the sudden loss of so many in Orlando, let us remember that in our own city we just bore witness to the 100th homicide of the year. So much violence, so much grief and despair. Let our Lamentations for these be strong and full. And again, may our grief move us toward action. May we be a people so firmly grounded in hope that we cannot help but bring hope to our community and our world. May we be ready and willing to advocate justly, to move beyond our comfort zones and into a wider circle of community. May we be instruments of God's peace and God's love. May Love prevail.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Blog Post: “It’s (past) time for LGBT inclusion in the United Methodist Church”

By Rev'd Renee Dillard

Much has already been written, posted, tweeted, and voiced about General Conference 2016. I likely would not even add my perspective to the mix except for this - people I pastor and care for deeply have been hurt by the church, people in our community have been waiting and watching to see if the church will alter its rules and include everyone with a full welcome and full engagement, and there are mixed responses to the new plan based on the Council of Bishop's recommendation.

This was the first time I attended a General Conference. I was present in Portland for several days, not in any official capacity. I was there as a visitor and a mother.
I love the church. I even appreciate the structure of the church. Our General Boards and Agencies allow us to combine our time, talents, and gifts in Spirit-filled and life-changing ways all around the world. Our gathering for General Conference allows us to worship together, celebrate together, and plan together. Unfortunately, our structure also means that change comes slowly. We just celebrated the 60th anniversary of ordained women in the UMC and the 40th anniversary of the first women delegates for GC. I am shocked that women were so long denied these roles in the life of the church. Yet, I am gladdened and grateful for all the ways women visibly and powerfully lead today (lay and clergy female delegates and so many fabulous female bishops!) and that my 20-year-old daughter, Isabelle, was elected as a delegate to represent the Memphis Annual Conference. Change comes slowly, but it comes.
With all the good that is accomplished by and through the church, we have too long been at an impasse regarding human sexuality, specifically parts of our discipline related to LGBT persons. Which brings me back to my main reason for writing.

I have LGBT friends and LGBT allies who are considering transferring their membership out of the United Methodist Church. If you do so, know that I love you and respect you and I get it. It's time, and past time, for change. Yet I hope you do not. Selfishly I hope not because some of the folks thinking of leaving are also some of my all-time favorite people. I also hope not because your local church loves and appreciates, welcomes and needs you. And I hope not because the UMC needs you, needs your voice and talent and perspective, needs your full inclusion as families and as clergy.

To wait longer may be too much to ask. Yet I am hopeful about the way forward. The recommendation offered from the full Council of Bishops demonstrates a new willingness to focus the time and effort needed to enact significant change.

An excerpt from the Bishops' statement:
"NEXT STEPS We recommend that the General Conference defer all votes on human sexuality and refer this entire subject to a special Commission, named by the Council of Bishops, to develop a complete examination and possible revision of every paragraph in our Book of Discipline regarding human sexuality. We continue to hear from many people on the debate over sexuality that our current Discipline contains language which is contradictory, unnecessarily hurtful, and inadequate for the variety of local, regional, and global contexts. We will name such a Commission to include persons from every region of our UMC, and will include representation from differing perspectives on the debate. We commit to maintain an on-going dialogue with this Commission as they do their work, including clear objectives and outcomes. Should they complete their work in time for a called General Conference, then we will call a two-to-three-day gathering before the 2020 General Conference."

Over my few days at GC I witnessed some powerful demonstrations and protests. LGBT persons and allies disrupted a plenary session with prophetic calls that "Black Lives Matter" followed by chants for justice and love. Clergy and supporters stood at the entrances to the plenary session, and later marched through, hands bound with rainbow stoles and singing "Blest Be the Tie that Binds." As powerful as these demonstrations were, I was also overcome and overjoyed to see support from others in the room. People stood. People joined in with chants and singing. People listened. That support demonstrates something stronger than the hurtful words of our discipline - that support demonstrates true community, love, and grace.

May God's love for all be proclaimed and experienced.
May we all be instruments of God's love and peace and joy.
Hopeful Blessings abound!