News from University United Methodist Church in East Lansing, MI 

Tower Alert

January 22, 2020



To be taken directly to the article/announcement, click on the underlined text.

Feature Articles
From the Pastor: "Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation"


You may have heard that on January 3, the United Methodist Church published a nine-page document entitled “Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation.” The Protocol was released with a set of FAQs and an official press release. The Protocol is the result of volunteer mediation work carried out by Kenneth Feinberg. You may know Mr. Feinberg as the chief mediator for the 9/11 Victims Fund and the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill damage payouts.
The Protocol was unanimously endorsed by individuals representing Mainstream UMC, Uniting Methodists, UMC Next, Reconciling Ministries Network, Methodist Federation for Social Action, Affirmation, Wesleyan Covenant Association, Institute on Religion and Democracy, Good News, Confessing Movement, and Bishops from the US, Africa, Europe, and the Philippines. The release of the Protocol caught many people by surprise because it was negotiated secretly. Mr. Feinberg offered his services to the church on a pro-bono basis but asked that the parties keep the process confidential until an agreement could be reached.
While the Protocol is something of a hopeful sign, it is not a slam dunk. It must be re-written into detailed legislation and then get to the floor of the General Conference in May of this year. Legislation is subject to debate and vote by the conference delegates. It will need a majority of votes to pass. Remember the proverb, “The devil is in the details.” While the Protocol might be a very good first step in resolving differences in the UMC, the deal is not yet done. If the Protocol is officially adopted at the 2020 General Conference, a significant adjustment and realignment will be necessary for the United Methodist Church. That will take time.
The Protocol allows churches wishing to leave the denomination to do so while retaining their financial assets and property. These could be churches on the conservative side or the progressive side. The Protocol looks toward a restructuring of the remaining global United Methodist Church into regions, with flexibility to adapt church policies, including on LGBTQ inclusion. The Protocol also calls for the General Council on Finance and Administration of the United Methodist Church to pay out $25 million to a new “Traditionalist Denomination” over four years. Additionally, $3 million could be paid out to other groups wishing to leave and form new denominations.
The Protocol may be a way out of the tenuous situation we have been mired in for decades. On the other hand, it is far from perfect. I have significant reservations about rewarding traditionalists with $25 million for the harm they have done to the LGBTQIA members and friends in the UMC. The Protocol rewards them for significant negative publicity visited on our denomination. I question offering $25 million to Traditionalists to walk away from a problem they created while offering other groups $3 million to split who knows how many ways.
This deal leaves a sour taste in my mouth, but I welcome the opportunity to bid the Traditionalists farewell. Then the rest of us might get on with the business of being a graceful and inclusive witness to the gospel. I cannot abide any longer religious prejudice in the church.
Copies of the Protocol, the FAQs, and the other four plans being submitted to the General Conference can be picked up at the church or can be mailed or emailed to you on request. You can also read them online by clicking here: Protocol, FAQs, Plans. In addition, this article (click here) contains more details as well as links to the Protocol and the FAQs.

Rev. William C. Bills



For more details on these events, click on the underlined text to be taken directly to the announcement.

January 26 -- Adult study on Half Truths by Adam Hamilton begins
January 26 -- Fourth Sunday Eat Out Group

January 27 -- Comfort Quilts
January 29 -- Adult study of The New Testament: An Analytical Approach begins
February 2 -- Souper Bowl Sunday Brunch

February 4 -- First Tuesday Lecture Series: Dr. Wolfgang Bauer
February 5 -- Women's Fellowship
February 6 -- UUMC Men Dinner & Program




Our love and prayers to the family of UUMC member Warren Roost, who passed away on January 5. A memorial service will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 25 at UUMC. Visitation with the family will begin at 12:00 noon. A reception will be held in Asbury Hall following the service.


The UUMC Mission Committee is asking for your help in offering support to the residents of Puerto Rico, who have recently suffered through a series of devastating earthquakes. We are offering three options for your consideration:
  • Make an online donation to the UMCOR Puerto Rico Relief Fund. Go to and donate to the UMCOR U.S. Disaster Response and Recovery Fund, Advance #901670.
  • Make a cash donation to the UMCOR Relief Fund using the offering envelopes that will be available on Sundays, January 26 and February 2.
  • Support the Wesley Foundation and their upcoming Puerto Rican Reconstruction Alternative Spring Break with a donation using the offering envelopes that will be available on Sundays, January 26 and February 2. (Editor's Note: Or by attending the Souper Bowl Sunday Brunch on Sunday, February 2 -- see below for more information.)


You are invited to join a study of the book Half Truths: “God Helps Those Who Help Themselves” and Other Things the Bible Doesn’t Say by Adam Hamilton. Classes will be held on Sunday mornings at 10:05 a.m., starting January 26, in the Bethune Room.


The Fourth Sunday Eat Out Group will meet Sunday, January 26 at 12:45 p.m. at Olive Garden (5051 Marsh Rd., Okemos). Everyone is welcome to join us. We will be celebrating Laura Topping’s 92nd birthday. For a reservation, contact Joyce Smith (517-339-0620) by January 23.


Please be advised that the Women’s Fellowship/UMW Potluck, originally scheduled for Wednesday, January 29, has been postponed until further notice.


You are invited to join a study of The New Testament: An Analytical Approach by Stevan Davies on Wednesdays from 3:00 - 4:30 p.m., starting January 29, in the Bethune Room. This is an introduction to New Testament study. The primary focus will be on the differences between analytical and traditional church approaches. It will be a critical look at the New Testament, including who actually wrote the various texts, how they were complied, and more.


You are invited to join us for a new offering at UUMC: Introduction to Meditation. These one-hour sessions will meet on Wednesdays at 7:00 p.m. in the Chapel of the Apostles and will offer approximately 30 minutes of video, readings, and discussion about meditation. The second half of the hour will be given to sitting meditation. Wear comfortable clothing. You do not have to stay for the entire hour. Come as often as you like. Drop-ins are welcome.


Join the Wesley Foundation after the 11:00 a.m. service on Sunday, February 2 for a soup brunch. Donations will help to fund the Wesley Foundation's Reconstruction Alternative Spring Break to Puerto Rico. Please indicate on the Connection Card in Sunday's bulletin if you plan to attend and also whether you are able to provide a soup for the brunch.


The next event in our lecture series will be held on Tuesday, February 4 at 6:30 p.m. in Asbury Hall. Our presenter will be Dr. Wolfgang Bauer. Dr. Bauer will be addressing the topic of climate control. We hope you’ll join us for this thought-provoking evening. Everyone is welcome to attend! To read more about Dr. Bauer, visit our website:


Women's Fellowship will meet for lunch at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, February 5 at Coral Gables Restaurant (2838 E. Grand River, East Lansing). For reservations, please contact Libby Cloud at 517-641-4296 or


The UUMC Men will meet for dinner and a program on Thursday, February 6 at 5:30 p.m. Our speaker will be Bob Vondale, who will talk about his experiences as an infantry soldier in the World War II Normandy invasion. The cost for the meal is $10, which includes a donation to the Mobility Cart Program. Women are welcome. For more information, contact Jim Pocock (517-333-8380).


Tickets are on sale now for our Choral Scholarship fundraiser! This Broadway revue, “Songs of Hope and Love”, will showcase the talents of UUMC's scholarship students, who sing in our Chancel Choir on Sunday mornings, along with several friends from the MSU College of Music. Enjoy an evening of fine desserts and fabulous music on Friday, February 14 at 7:30 p.m. in Asbury Hall. Tickets are $50 each and may be purchased on Sunday mornings from Choir Director Susan Stinson or during the week from Kim Depew in the church office.


We often take photographs and videos of adults, youth, and children as they participate in UUMC and Wesley services, events, and activities. These images may appear in digital and print communications designed to build congregational community and to promote our church and its activities. If you do not want your photo or your child’s photo to be used in communications, you must submit a written request to the church office (


Did you miss last Sunday’s sermon? Or maybe you didn’t miss it, but you’d like to hear it again! Most sermons are now uploaded to our church website ( on Monday mornings. They can be found by going to “Worship” on the drop-down menu, and then select “Recent Sermon Audios”.


Our quilting ministry has been making quilts for donation for many years. Our quilting group meets on the second and fourth Mondays of the month from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. in the Quilt Room in the church basement. No previous quilting experience is needed. For more info, contact Betsy Bricker (248-520-1469).


Betsy Bricker (248-520-1469) is the contact person for January. Thanks to Patty Puckett for being our contact in December. Helping Hands provides meals and transportation to members and friends of UUMC during a time of need.‚Äč




The Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine is offering the 20th annual Dr. William G. Anderson Lecture Series -- "Slavery to Freedom: An American Odyssey". Once again in 2020, three nationally acclaimed leaders will be at MSU to spark discussion and interaction on issues around diversity, civil rights, and social justice. The dates, times, and locations for these free presentations are: Rev. Dr. Kevin R. Murriel on Thursday, February 6, 5:00 p.m., Kellogg Center Auditorium; April Ryan on Thursday, February 20, 5:00 p.m., Wharton Center (Pasant Theatre); and Bankole Thompson on Thursday, February 27, 5:00 p.m., Kellogg Center Auditorium. We hope that you’ll plan on coming to hear these dynamic speakers give their thought-provoking presentations. For more information, call 517-432-4979 or email


All are invited to a Community Sing the first Monday of every month (except February) at 7:00 p.m. in the Copper Chimney Lounge of UUMC. A $5 donation is requested. For more information, visit
Announcements are due on Tuesdays by 5:00 PM. If possible, please e-mail your item to Questions about Tower Alert should be directed to Diane Constan (517-393-5450).

For updated church information, be sure to check the UUMC-Wesley Foundation website at

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