The United Methodist Church is comprised of people who love Jesus Christ and his message of salvation, peace, love, and justice for all humankind. However, as diverse people with diverse gifts and experience, we do not always agree on how to understand or practice this message. One area in which we are not of one mind involves human sexuality — specifically same-gender marriage and the ordination of LGBTQ persons.

More than 850 representatives of The United Methodist Church from around the world are meeting Feb. 23-26 in St. Louis, Missouri, for what we call General Conference to determine at least three issues involving human sexuality: Will the church allow clergy to perform same-sex weddings? Will same-sex weddings be allowed on United Methodist Church properties? Will the church allow for the ordination of LGBTQ persons?

While this group typically meets every four years, this conference is a special session called to discuss only one topic: human sexuality. The denomination has discussed human sexuality at nearly all of our general conferences since 1972, so while this topic is not new for us, laws and public acceptance have changed greatly in the past 10 years.

Some people question what decisions made in St. Louis will have on our local churches. The truth is that we do not fully know at this point.

One thing we know for certain is that Neighbors will continue to work to make a lasting impact on our community.

We will continue to talk about God’s love for ALL people and of Jesus’ sacrifice for ALL humankind. We will continue to do what we can to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless and stand up for the marginalized in our community.

We will continue to work to create a world that emulates the safe and loving space where ALL people experience the full love and grace of Jesus.

We will continue to celebrate people for who they are.  We will continue to speak out to help make our world a better place for ALL people.

The values of Neighbors church will continue to be Love, Inclusion, Transparency, Accessibility, Purposefulness, Genuineness, and Advocacy. These values will continue to be for ALL people.

We will continue to pray for peace, love and grace, even when we face differences.

Our mission as a church continues.

We will continue to love God, love ourselves, and love our neighbors.

When Neighbors church first moved into the space we are in now, we shared a prayer together. You’re invited to join us in this prayer.

Today we pray for Neighbors Church.

We pray for the message of love and the joy that it brings.

We pray to Love God and to know God Loves us.

We pray for inspiration from scriptures and stories to be told.

We pray beyond money or material things.

We pray beyond buildings, traditions or change.

Today we pray to love ourselves as God loves us.

We pray to know we are loved and special for who we are.

We pray to be believers, to be disciples and to serve.

We pray for each other and for the neighbors we have yet to meet.

We pray for our leaders and our pastors and preachers.

We pray to love all, knowing everyone is loved by God.

We pray for the love of Jesus, our Lord and our Savior

For Christ that loves all, accepts all, appreciates all and celebrates all.

Today we pray to love God, love ourselves and to love our neighbors.

Today we pray for Neighbors Church.

The world needs Neighbors.  Perhaps now, more than ever before.