Encounter - Our Monthly Newsletter
Letter from Rev. Kent Ingram: Retirement
Dear Members and Friends of First United Methodist Church,
After a long period of prayer and discussion with my family and others I trust, I have decided to retire July 1.
I have served to the very best of my ability for the past 16 years. We have experienced so much together! There have been great joys and celebrations, and struggles. We have received a lot of new members, started a lot of new ministries, served a lot of people. We have been through recessions, struggles in the denomination, difficult political realities, and a worldwide pandemic! Through it all we have been faithful to the gospel of God’s love and grace revealed in Jesus Christ.
I must admit, I am tired. For many clergy, the last two years have been exhausting. Trying to hold together a large, diverse congregation is hard enough, but adding to it the stresses of the pandemic has made it a difficult task to lead. I have tried to hold this congregation together, with the help of the leadership, both staff and laity. I am proud of how well we have weathered so many storms.
I love this congregation. I love her glorious history. I love its place in the community. I love its magnificent facilities. But most of all I love you. I love the people, the rich, diverse, beautiful people who make up this church. I love you so much that I realize that I am not the person who needs to lead you into the next season of your life. You need someone with more energy and stamina to help lead the rebuilding, the reimagining, the restarting of the church. You need a staff to lead you into a “new normal,” likely one that is ever changing.
I have loved working with this staff. I know there have been many changes in the past year, but I am confident that we have folks who are highly competent and deeply committed to the work of this church. I am also confident that the Bishop and cabinet, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, will find the right team to lead you into the future.
As for Kris and me, we are making decisions about our future. It may include a move to Wisconsin. Kris’s folks live in Green Bay, her brother and sister and their families live in Door County, just north of Green Bay. We are looking to relocate there, at least for a while. There is a chance that we will return to Colorado Springs, depending on our children, and even more importantly, possible grandchildren! You know how that goes!
I look forward to my last three months as your pastor. There is no way words can reflect the gratitude I have for the opportunity to be your pastor. My heart is full with a deep joy for having been a part of this great church in her service to Colorado Springs and the world.
I will be praying for you in this time of transition. I covet your prayers for Kris and me as well.
With a Deep Peace,
Letter to Congregation: General Conference Postponed
Many of you have heard that the General Conference of the United Methodist Church has been postponed until May of 2024. Originally scheduled for May of 2020, the meeting has been postponed three times due to covid related issues. Most recently, the concern has been the ability of the Central Conference delegates to attend. Central Conference delegates are from United Methodist Conferences outside of the U.S. It was particularly difficult for delegates from Africa and The Philippines to receive the required vaccinations and get visas to the U.S. in time for the late August date.
The General Conference is the highest governing body of the United Methodist Church, the “law making” arm of the church, much like our national legislature. If you have been paying attention to the media, or have just been following church news for the past several years, you will know that the key piece of legislation before the General Conference was a petition to allow the church to split over issues related to human sexuality. There is a group, calling themselves the Global Methodist Church, that is ready to form a new denomination. As a denomination, they would not allow the ordination of LGBTQ people or perform marriages for any one from that community. They were hoping to pass the legislation that would allow them to leave with their church property and for the pastors to stay involved in the church pension plan. The postponement of the conference has pushed them to announce that they will launch their new denomination on May 1, 2022. It will be up to each Annual Conference to set the terms for how they can leave. There are provisions in our Book of Discipline for churches that want to separate. There will be a few churches from our area who will leave.
First United Methodist Church of Colorado Springs will remain in the United Methodist Church. We will continue our work to be fully inclusive, to love all of God’s children, and be a witness to that love to our community and to the world. While I support the Commission on General Conference’s decision to postpone the conference, it will create some hardship in the short term. As fully inclusive as the continuing United Methodist churches want to be, the discriminatory language will remain in our Book of Discipline until we can meet and vote to remove it. We will have people who feel the harm of such hurtful language. Friends of mine, with whom I disagree on this issue, and maybe friends of yours, will be leaving to be a part of another denomination. The world will see a church in conflict, splitting once again. Divorce is hard. People get hurt.
As an elected delegate to the General Conference I will do my best to help the United Methodist Church move ahead into God’s future for us. As your pastor, I will do my best to make sure that we offer the life-giving Good News of Jesus Christ to as many people as possible in as many ways as possible. I see signs of hope across the Church and in our own congregation. God is at work. New life is emerging.
If you have any questions or want to talk to me about any of this, please do not hesitate to contact me. For most of us there will be little sign of the conflict at the General Church level. We will still worship and serve, study and pray, fellowship and love each other. I do ask that you pray for the denomination that has nurtured and cared for many of us. And pray for this church that we might be faithful to God’s call upon our lives. God is good. All the time.
Rev. Kent Ingram
Sunday morning options for parents with children...
As you may have heard, we have a children's music program on Sunday mornings at 10am for K through 6th graders. There are now 3 options for 2 hours of programming on Sunday mornings for your kids (9am and 11am Sunday school and 10am Children's Music)! We want to make sure you know you also have options during these times.
First, there is an adult Sunday school class from about 10am to about 11am. We expect the class will need a flexible start and end time to allow time for transitioning to and from various activities like kid drop-off. This group meets in the Parent Room in Kingdom City on the 2nd floor.
Another Sunday option during the 10am Children's Music program is Heartstrings Worship Service in the Theatre (1st floor). We would love to have you join us for Bluegrass - Worship - Wild Hearts. In addition, your child(ren) may be escorted to children's music directly from Heartstrings, to save you a journey to the second floor.
Finally, we know you don't really need reminding, but we have a beautiful, vibrant downtown community. Sunday mornings are alive with good people, good food, arts, and just plain fun. So, feel free to leave your cell number with us (Children's Spiritual Formation), and take some "you-time" in downtown Colorado Springs.