Discernment 2022-2023

📄 Discernment and Division

November 16, 2022
Dear Lebanon Family,

 

Some folks have expressed concern that the process of “discernment” has brought division to our congregation.

We can understand where that feeling is coming from and we think it is only right to address that concern.

In order to proceed properly, we must first define exactly what discernment is.

According to Webster, discernment is “the faculty of discerning; discrimination; acuteness of judgement and understanding.”

So we are being called to come to an understanding, an examining if you will, of where we as individuals and a congregation stand relating to the United Methodist Church.

For many in our family, we grew up in the church, whether it was Methodist, Baptist, Catholic, etc. There was the presumption that the Word of God is our foundation and that Christ is the only Way. With that settled, the local congregation was a place where nice folks gather, spread the Good News of Christ’s Gift of Salvation and do loving things for others. I certainly think Lebanon fits that image. I have many fond memories of the saints that came before us… that passed on the legacy that is Lebanon Church.

However, society is clearly changing. There has been a general “falling away” from all denominations. For those who follow the mainline denominations and our United Methodist denomination in particular, they know that there has been turmoil for years. In 2019, the “disaffiliation” option was established by the United Methodist denomination and our Church Council recently voted to investigate that option. Part of the process is discernment, and that is where we are today.

We at Lebanon, are now being called to examine who WE are and what we actually believe. That can push us to the edge of our comfort zone. While it may be uncomfortable, the Apostle Peter stated, “ … Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect… “(1 Peter 3:15 NIV).

Robin and I perceive this as an opportunity for spiritual renewal and growth. The years ahead hold the potential for all Christians to endure persecution for their faith, and those who stand fully on God’s Word and declare Jesus as the only Way to Salvation are increasingly counter-cultural. As the Apostle James states however, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (James 1:2-5 NIV)

It is our belief, that the legacy our Lebanon forefathers left is best preserved through disaffiliation with the United Methodist denomination. However, study the Scriptures, read the materials distributed, research for yourself, and pray. After careful discernment, you may see it otherwise. But it is our sincere hope that when we look back to OUR past, we will see the discernment process not as a source of division, but a springboard to self-examination and spiritual renewal.

Peace to all.

Jack and Robin Bruce