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Weekly Update from Pastor Adam - May 3, 2024

May 3, 2024

Dear Resurrection Family,

As I write this, I’m on my way back to Kansas City from the United Methodist Church’s General Conference. What an awesome week this has been! General Conference meets every four years and is the decision-making and policy-setting body of the United Methodist Church. This was my eighth General Conference to attend. In the past, these were conflict-driven, deeply divided gatherings. This year was so different – joyous, largely united, and hope-filled. It was really remarkable.

My eNote today ends with a rather lengthy article about God, the Bible, and Same-Sex Marriage. I thought in the light of the decisions this week, this article might be helpful.

It’s been a long two weeks, but we have come together as a denomination to begin charting a course for the United Methodist Church that I believe will help us be a witness in the world, be a church for our children and grandchildren, and reach non-religious and nominally religious people. I’ll share more details from General Conference at the end of this eNote. Below is a photo of the Great Plains delegation with our bishop. Half of the group are laity, half clergy. Half of these were voting delegates, half were reserves. You’ll see four Resurrection pastors or staff and one former Resurrection pastor – I wonder if you can pick them out?


I’m looking forward to being in worship this weekend to hear our guest preacher, Philip Yancey. I read my first Philip Yancey book 20 years ago and his most recent book a month or two ago. He is an inspiring storyteller whose words have touched the hearts of millions of readers. Like his writings, I know his message will both touch the heart and speak to the mind.

Among his books that I’ve read are, Where is God when it Hurts, The Jesus I Never Knew, Prayer: Does it Make Any Difference, and What’s So Amazing About Grace? Don’t miss this important weekend in worship!

Please note, if you want to hear him, you need to worship in person, on TV or online Saturday night or Sunday. We will not be able to re-broadcast his message after May 5, so plan to join us in person, TV or online on Saturday or Sunday.

I’ll also be sharing a brief report from General Conference this weekend.


can also join a conversation with Philip Yancey on Saturday, May 4, from 9 am to noon at Leawood and online. His topic is “What was God Thinking?” and he’ll be discussing his latest book, a memoir called, Where the Light Fell in which he shares his own journey of finding faith, recovering from his racist past, and loving his atheist brother and his emotionally abusive mother. There is still availability to attend the event, and you can register here.


During worship this weekend, we will celebrate our graduating high school seniors, recognizing this important milestone and honoring these young people on this achievement. We’ll have a special gift for all students graduating high school who are in worship at all our locations.


You don’t want to miss out on our exciting Vacation Bible Camp July 15 – 19. “The Jesus Tour” is our VBC adventure for children currently in kindergarten through 5th grade. We also have plenty of places for older students and adults to join the fun as volunteers. Sign up here!


The Good Faith Network’s 2024 Nehemiah Assembly is Tuesday, May 7 at 6 pm in the Leawood Sanctuary. You can join representatives from over 30 congregations to hear about how local officials are addressing critical challenges including Mental Health Crisis Care, Ending Homelessness, and Lack of Affordable Housing in Johnson County and how we can play a role in making positive changes in our community. Here’s more information.


Registration for the Wesley Heritage Cruise that I will be leading August 22 – September 4, 2025 will be opening to those who are on the interest list next week and to the public soon after. Check out the brochure for the cruise by clicking here. If you want to receive the registration link, please add your name to the interest list by clicking here.


This year we are celebrating 30 years of saving lives through our partnership with Community Blood Center as we host our Resurrection Blood Drives. Every donation makes a difference, and with recent changes at the Community Blood Center, more people than ever can give the gift of life. Click on the location for details and to sign up.


This has been a historic General Conference as our denomination approved changes to our Book of Discipline to address policies and language that have caused division and conflict for the past 52 years. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Adopted revised Social Principles that address current social concerns in a balanced way that removed the anti-gay sections inserted since 1972.
  • Voted to remove exclusionary policies and language concerning gay and lesbian people from the Book of Discipline including prohibitions against marriage and ordination of otherwise qualified candidates for ministry.
  • Adopted Regionalization that allows the UMC in various regions of the world to set policies, make decisions and do ministry in ways that are unique to their context. This will need to be approved by two-thirds of the voting members of annual conferences over the next year.

While the above made the news, there was so much more that happened at General Conference including commissioning new missionaries, approving a new budget for the next four years and a new pension plan for clergy, giving deacons the ability to administer the sacraments of baptism and Holy Communion (Claire Clough and Ally Drummond are two of our pastors who are deacons), and much more. As I noted above, this General Conference was remarkable in its joy, hope and lack of conflict from past General Conferences.


The question of same-sex marriage has, over the last 30 years, been one of the most divisive issues in Christian churches. It was the question of same-sex marriage, and underneath that, how we view and interpret the Bible, that was at the center of the division of the United Methodist Church for the last three years, in which we saw a quarter of our churches disaffiliate from the denomination.

I’ve written and preached extensively on this – for those looking for a deep dive, see my book, Making Sense of the Bible. Here at Resurrection, we are not all of one mind, but we have agreed that we can disagree and that we will love and welcome gay and lesbian people, and still love one another, despite our differences.

Reading the responses to my Facebook posts from General Conference, most celebrated the changes in our Book of Discipline removing language that excluded gay and lesbian people from marriage and ordination in the church. But others expressed disagreement. I wanted to offer a word here that captures a short summary of my thinking, and the thinking of many who advocated for changing the language in our Discipline.

Since we started the church in 1990, I felt a concern and compassion for the gay and lesbian people who came to visit Resurrection. As I listened to their stories I heard again and again the harm they had felt from Christians and churches. This was 34 years ago. My sense then, as now, was that Christ never intended the faith he was launching to be used as a rationale for bullying, teasing, or excluding people. These were God’s children too.

Further, as I listened to them describe their desire to love and be loved, it was no different from my desire to love LaVon and to be loved by her. I saw gifts in these persons, a genuine love for Christ, and a desire to be his faithful followers.

I sat with parents of gay children and listened to their stories, stories that pointed to the fact that these kids were not suddenly seeking to rebel against God by choosing to be gay. Often, they described how they sensed, as their kids were growing up, that they might be gay. I thought, how would I feel towards my girls if one of them were gay? I remember when Billy Graham was asked this question years ago and he said, “I would love them all the more, as they would need my love.” He spoke of how hard life was in his time for gay and lesbian people.

If one of my children were gay, would I want to exclude them from sharing in a loving relationship like their mom and I have, a relationship that is so life-giving to us? No, if one of them were a lesbian, I would want them to have this kind of love and share their life with another.

I am reminded that a parent’s love for their child — that pure, selfless and sacrificial love one has for their children and grandchildren is only a dim reflection of the love God has for us. Surely this is how God saw his children who were gay, who longed to love and be loved. I wondered if the God who in Genesis 1:18 said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner,” might not feel the same empathy and compassion for gay and lesbian people and make allowance for them to have a partner.

Over the years I’ve been a pastor to hundreds of gay and lesbian people, including many who are married, and couples raising children. I’ve been grateful they felt the love of our congregation and the love of God here. They are remarkable, kind, committed, caring people who are an important part of our congregation, seeking to follow and serve Christ in our midst.

My meager efforts to change our Discipline were in part because of my love for them, and in part, a reflection of my belief that God loves them even more than I do.

“But what about the Bible?” I’m inevitably asked. I love the Bible, read it every day, I have two degrees in Bible and theology, and I’ve spent, by my best calculations, about 20,000 hours studying scripture in the last 34 years as your pastor. I not only preach and teach the Bible, I seek to live it.

Precisely because of that study, I recognize the Bible’s complexity and see its humanity. The biblical authors were all people who lived in a particular historical and cultural context. They wrote out of their experiences and reflections of God, their intimations of his will, and their flashes of inspiration. And the Holy Spirit worked in and through them as they wrote, and in and through us as we read. But the Spirit did not negate their humanity, wipe out their assumptions, or eliminate their preconceptions. And this is part of what I love about scripture – it is not a sanitized and perfectly consistent document – but a record of God’s love for his people, as recorded by people who often utterly failed in their attempts at loving and serving him. Yet somehow in the messiness of scripture, we hear God speak.

I’ve shared with you that I see the handful of passages in the Bible about some form of same-sex acts through the same lens that I read the hundreds of verses that allowed for slavery, or the many that placed women in a subordinate position to men, or which permitted and at times urged God’s people to kill their enemies, including the children of their adversaries. I read these passages in the same way I read those passages that call for parents to have their own children put to death when they’ve been persistently disobedient. We don’t still practice these words of scripture but rightly interpret them in the light of the larger and more important witness of scripture, including the call to do justice, to love mercy and to practice agape towards others.

Again, I’m giving you a very short summary of what I spent 320 pages unpacking in Making Sense of the Bible, and about which I’ve written blog posts, chapters in books, and preached sermons.

I’ve had people tell me I’m a heretic, or just plain evil, because of these convictions. I can only say that my highest aspiration, what Stephen Curtis Chapman once called the “magnificent obsession,” is to follow Christ. I want to know, love, and follow him, and to help others to do the same. As you know, my day begins each morning on my knees, offering my life to him, inviting the Holy Spirit to form and shape me, my heart and mind, and to use me. But I also know that I fail at this again and again. My thinking about God and same-sex marriage reflects my sense of God’s heart, character and will. And I realize I could be wrong.

What the General Conference did this week was remove language and policies in our Book of Discipline that codified only a particular view of marriage, and whose words relegated gay and lesbian people to second-class status in the church (There was no specific language about “LGBTQ+” persons in the Book of Discipline language so we did not specifically address it at General Conference, but in taking this step to remove the hurtful language, we are becoming a more loving and inclusive church.) In removing the language without inserting new language, it also left room for United Methodists to disagree on the question of same-sex marriage, provided we seek to love, to not harm, and that we see all people, including gay and lesbian people, of “sacred worth.” The United Methodist Church is a big tent with conservatives, liberals and a lot of centrists. That is who we are at Resurrection as well.

Finally, what I’ve said about same-sex marriage applies to the ordination of called, qualified, and committed people who love Jesus and seek to live a life worthy of his call. Being gay will no longer disqualify someone from ordained ministry in the UMC. All clergy will be asked to hold the highest standards of personal morality.

At Resurrection, the last time we surveyed the congregation, back in January of 2020, 75% of our people considered themselves progressive when it came to same-sex marriage, and 25% considered themselves traditional, and 94% of them said they could be a part of a church where there are both progressives and conservatives on the question of same-sex marriage.

By the way, our pastors are not all in the same place either. They all want to welcome and love everyone, and some are ready to officiate at same-sex weddings, which they now may do as a result of the changes to the Discipline. Others may choose not to do this at this time.

I’m proud to be a United Methodist, and grateful for the work of General Conference this week removing harmful language and becoming a more welcoming and inclusive church, and I’m blessed to be your pastor, whether you are straight or gay, progressive or conservative in your view of marriage, and I know that you are a people committed to radically loving others.


Join me Tuesday night at 7:30 pm Central Time, I’ll be coming to you from the Nehemiah Assembly at Leawood’s Sanctuary. You can join me on on Facebook Live here.

Don’t miss Philip Yancy in worship this weekend!


Adam Hamilton

Resurrection Senior Pastor

Reverend Adam Hamilton is the senior pastor of Church of the Resurrection and the author of 22 books. He has been married to LaVon since 1982, and she has been a critical partner in every dimension of Adam’s work. They have two daughters and one granddaughter.

Adam’s writings are known for helping readers make sense of challenging theological questions, exploring the significance of the biblical stories, and equipping Christian leaders to be more effective in their work. He earned his MDiv from Perkins School of Theology and graduated with honors from Oral Roberts University with a degree in Pastoral Ministry.

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