June 01, 2016

By Stephanie Greiner

The phrase “Do Not Be Afraid” or “Fear Not” appears 365 times in the Bible. I’m writing this article as I’m ending my first day at the St. Louis Mission u Study Leader Training and I realized that there are concerns in our conference about this year’s Mission u Spiritual Growth Study: The Bible and Human Sexuality: Claiming God’s Good Gift, and I have heard that there are people who are thinking about “missing” this year because of the subject matter. I think it’s because “we’re afraid.”
    
Let me first restate what I just said, “we’re afraid.” I’m included in that statement. It was not with some anxiety and trepidation that I volunteered to be the spiritual growth study leader, specifically this year. While I have a background in training, educating and leading I have no background in spiritual growth or theology. How could I possibly lead the spiritual growth study at Mission u? Last year (2015) was my first Mission u experience, but when the opportunity presented itself I was called to tell Liz…I would love to be the leader for not only Mission u but for this specific study.
    
I think we have a HUGE misconception of what this study is going to teach us. First this study is not about homosexuality and same sex marriage. Second, this is not a “how to” study in terms of sexuality. This is a study that focuses on our perceptions and misperceptions about how we as a church deal with the topic of sexuality. I have spent 8 hours with a diverse group of women (and one man) and we had amazing theological conversations about sexuality, without going “there”. We talked about respect, love, distrust, shame, fear, abuse and our scared worth as human beings. 
    
There is NO agenda with this study. There is NO secret mission to trick UMW members into compromising their long held beliefs about sexuality. There is A LOT of spiritual growth! There is A LOT of being in scripture and there is A LOT we can all learn! 
    
If you are thinking about not attending Mission u this year because of the topic of Human Sexuality I urge you to prayerfully reconsider your decision. I ask that you trust me as your leader and ultimately the direction the Holy Spirit takes us in this spiritual growth study. As one of our songs says: Come out! Come out of your comfortable places. Come meet Jesus in the difficult places!
    
The Bible and Human Sexuality: Claiming God’s Good Gift will be led by Stephanie Greiner at the Mission u held at Central Methodist University July 28-July 31. Lynda Moore Walker will be leading the study at Ashland UMC in St. Joseph, MO September 9-10, during the September session The Bible and Human Sexuality: Claiming God’s Good Gift will be offered in English and Spanish. For more information, go to www.moumethodist.org/unitedmethodistwomen