Author Archives: Tim

Advents Coming! Stay Tuned.

During Advent this year I will be blogging about our Advent worship series “A Thrill of Hope!”

I have been looking at moving my blog in a new direction and I look forward to using this space as a place to talk about worship, preaching, themes that we are following throughout the year, and other ministry at Indianola First UMC.

Keep and eye out later in the month for the Advent series posts to begin!

Indianola First UMC’s Leadership Stand for Inclusion!

In response to the decisions of the 2019 General Conference of the UMC the Administrative Council of Indianola First UMC adopted the following statement –

“First UMC Indianola Iowa is an inclusive church for ALL people in our community, liberals, conservatives, LGBTQ+, straight, young, persons of every race and ethnicity, old, rich, poor, whomever.

First UMC loves and cares for EVERYONE regardless of what the UMC does or does not decide….now and in the future.”

We will be sharing our understanding of our nature as an inclusive congregation of God’s people because we believe that sharing God’s love with everyone all the time in every way possible is at the heart of the gospel.

God loves all, and all means all!

Tim Bonney, Lead Pastor

Who Now Will be Welcome?

Today is an unusual anniversary for me. It was on February 28th, 2010 when I officially ended my last Baptist pastorate. (From the early 1990s through 2010 I had served God as a pastor in the American Baptist Churches, USA. ) When I left the ABC that day I knew that my intention was to become a United Methodist. It would be a couple more months before I would receive my first appointment and July of 2010 before I officially started serving in the UMC at Cedar Fall First UMC as their Associate Pastor.

After starting at Cedar Falls First UMC, as soon as I was able, I started the process of transferring my orders to the Iowa Conference of the United Methodist Church.

During the entire process I felt very supported by the leadership of the Iowa Annual Conference. I felt very affirmed by members of the Board of Ordained Ministry who led me through the process. I felt affirmed by my District Superintendent in that process. For me it was a very welcoming and refreshing process.

Today I’m blessed to be serving in my third UMC appointment. I can say without reservation that each of the three churches I have been appointed to have been good fits for my gifts and graces. I have been blessed In my UMC service! 

During my time in the UMC I also have been proud to serve undo two fine prophet and pastoral Bishops who give great leadership as well as excellent Conference Superintendents. In short, I have felt welcomed, affirmed, blessed and proud to be serving in the Iowa Annual Conference of the UMC!

After such a wonderful experience in the UMC in Iowa, this week’s Special Called General Conference has been particularly painful and disheartening. This weeks General Conference failed to live up to my own personal experience in the UMC because the General Conference declared by its votes, its actions, its rhetoric, and its political tone that everyone will not be welcome in the UMC.

Yet I, and many many United Methodists, believe this is a complete contradiction to the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. If I have become anything in the past nine year, I have become a Methodist. I am a Methodist because I believe deeply in the overpowering, life changing, life giving grace of God through Jesus Christ. It is a grace that runs before us and loves us before we ever respond, it is a grace that carries us through life and into the presence of our God. It is free, it is unearned, it is for everyone!

So the big question for me today is now and in the future who will be welcome? Who now will we judge worthy of being part our denomination? And can we really call ourselves Methodists if we don’t welcome everyone whom Jesus loves? Because for me being a Methodist has always and ever will be about God’s boundless love!


A Pastoral Letter to God’s people at Indianola First UMC

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

By now you are hearing that the work of the General Conference in St. Louis did not go as many of us had hoped and prayed it would go. The One Church Plan failed to pass and we will be left without a General Conference adopted way forward.  It was our desire to be welcoming to all people in the UMC and make room for all our diverse theological understandings.

While some members of First Church did not want the policies of the UMC to change, many of us, myself included, hoped that the UMC would vote for a more open inclusive Church which would recognize the gifts and graces of LGBTQ+ people in our midst, provide full access to the ministries of the Church and full inclusion. Now that that the UMC will not vote to move forward at this time, what shall we do and say as the people of God at Indianola First UMC?

First, let me assure you that our entire church staff are unanimous in affirming our love and acceptance of each and every one of you including our LGBTQ+ members and their families. I as your Lead Pastor pledge to fully support every member of this congregation in every way I possibly can and to continue to stand up for and advocate for LGBTQ+ people who are being treated unjustly by the UMC. We love you. We will stand with you!

Second, I believe Indianola First must find ways to declare our love for everyone in our community be they progressive, conservative, LGBTQ+, whomever and let it be known that we love and accept all people no matter what others in the UMC may say.

This church has its own voice and in this time of struggle for justice and sharing God’s loving grace with all, your voice must be heard! 

On Sunday March 10th following worship at 12:15p I will hold an informational meeting for anyone who wants to know more about the decisions of the General Conference. We will share, we will grieve, will pray and we will discuss how we continue to be the church in Indianola whom God has called to love and care for all. And all means all!

In the name of God who is love,

Tim Bonney, Lead Pastor

What the Bible does (and doesn’t say) about marriage

For those of you who couldn’t make it to Indianola First UMC on Sunday or others who might be interested, I’m posting my sermon from this Sunday about my understanding of what the Bible does and doesn’t say about marriage.

You can get the full details in the sermon. But let me summarize briefly. I believe that we need allow and encourage same sex couples to be married in our churches and give them the same love and support we give any couple who comes to us wanting to make a life long commitment of love to each other. 

If you want in detail why I believe all this, please watch the sermon. Then if you have questions feel free to contact me. I’m happy to talk about it.