Dear Church Family, This week's e-note will cover the following three topics, along with a few miscellaneous items at the end. Our New Website January Classes Church and Politics Our New Website: BUMC recently launched a new Website. In today's culture having an excellent Website is critical. After you look it over, I believe you will agree that our new site is extremely well done. A special thanks to staff members Jeanetta Fargo and Eric Burton-Krieger, along with one of our lay members, Lisa Liston, for their hard work on this project. To visit our new site, bumc.net, click here. January Classes: Beginning tomorrow night, January 18th, I will be teaching a five-week class called "The Methodist Way." We'll review United Methodist history, worship, theology and organization. The class will meet the next five Wednesday evenings from 6:30 to 7:30 in the Chapel. This offering is part of our Step Up! 2012 emphasis on group-life. Numerous other classes are also beginning in January. All of them offer good opportunities to grow in faith and connect with others. For more information about our upcoming new classes, please click here.
Church and Politics: 2012 will be a year of relentless political campaigns. Therefore, it seems a good time to share my thoughts about church and politics. Through the years, many religious leaders and churches on both the right and the left have inappropriately identified themselves with either the Republican or the Democratic Party. But partisan politics, supporting a particular political candidate or party, has no place in the church of Jesus Christ, for at least five reasons. First, partisan politics is illegal. As nonprofit organizations, churches are forbidden by law to participate directly in political campaigns. Second, partisan politics divides congregations, pitting Republicans, Democrats, and independents against one another. Third, partisan politics diverts the church from its primary mission. God did not create the church to be a political action committee. God commissioned the church for a sacred mission, one that transcends partisan politics. Fourth, partisan politics damages the integrity of the church. Historically, whenever the church gets seduced by political power, the church always suffers, as it did in Nazi Germany and Apartheid South Africa. When the church gets too close to the government, the church always loses. Finally, partisan politics politicizes God, reducing God to a political tool of the left or the right, which is completely unacceptable. People of faith must always remember that God is not a Republican, or a Democrat, or even an American. God is bigger than partisan politics. However, that does not mean the church should avoid social issues like poverty, earth care, race relations, health care, immigration, hunger, peacemaking and other, often complex and contentious, subjects. The people of God can and must grapple with social issues because Scripture shows us that God cares about social issues. However, the church has no business participating in partisan politics. In last week's e-note I promised a year-end financial update this week. However, when I wrote this e-note, our Finance Department was still crunching those numbers, so I'll share that information next week.
I hope to see you this weekend as we continue the series, "Secrets of a Contented Life." This brief series is not heavy theology. And certainly in the Kingdom of God, contentment is not what matters most. But the series does deal with some important topics. And it offers an excellent opportunity to invite unchurched people to BUMC, where they can experience God and Christian community in ways they can understand. We launched our church-wide "Project 3:45" (read through the New Testament in 2012) program yesterday. If you have not yet signed up, or want further information about this important project, click here. Finally, it was good to receive the following thirteen new members: James Corder; Laura Burstyne; Eric, Amy, Ashlyn and Autumn Pause; Robert, Roxann, and Bradley Birkmaier; Andrew Benedict; Gary and Linda Oseman, and Markham Livingston. Welcome to our church family. In Christ's Love and Service, Martin