From Pastor Dottie, Senior Pastor at Catalina UMC:

Today I am in St. Louis attending the 2019 General Conference as an observer, and sitting with many other observers from the Desert Southwest Conference. Yesterday we spent time in prayer together. And today, we address the agenda, the matter at hand. We are here to vote on who we will be in our future. Will we be a church that loves everyone? Or will we be a church that puts limitations on how and who we love?

The two major plans in front of us are called The Traditional Plan and the One Church Plan. Catalina has already worked hard to address this question. It is visible in the Welcome Statement printed in our weekly bulletin and on our website.

Wherever you are in your spiritual journey, whatever your age, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, economic status, education, physical or mental ability, family structure, or religious background, you are welcome here.

This statement is broadly welcoming. It expresses the wideness of God’s grace and the knowledge that God loves us just as we are. It affirms the mandate Jesus gave to his disciples in John 15:12:

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

Jesus was direct in calling us to love. He didn’t mess around with the clarion call.

Many times I have had people in my office asking if they would be welcomed in the church. They tell me their story, and then say something like, “So, Pastor, will this church welcome me?” The question always saddens me. They have been in churches where their life story made them unwelcomed, and they didn’t want to trust again without knowing if they could be loved here. I reassure them (and hope fervently) that they will be welcomed.

I can see Jesus standing at our church door. He’s standing with open arms to welcome in all who seek to know God’s love for their lives. He is there to wipe away a tear, to comfort someone, to challenge and to help us grow in our faith. People are coming to church to see if they can find God here, and to see if we will welcome them. We are voting at General Conference these next days. But no matter what, we who call Catalina our church home will have open hearts, open minds, open doors.

Faith, hope, & love,

Pastor Dottie