Musings from Pastor Todd

Who Am I?

Updated 5/20/2019

I am a disciple of Jesus Christ; he claimed me at my baptism and I claimed him at my confirmation as a youth.

I’ve been called and ordained to be a pastor, whose role is to

  1. Word: proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ
  2. Sacrament: celebrate the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion
  3. Service: to serve the needs of the Body of Christ
  4. Order: ensure the administrative order of the parish is Biblical and Disciplinary

I’ve been appointed by the Bishop to serve as your pastoral and spiritual leader.

In my opinion, the role of the congregation is to “live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be God’s love with our neighbors in all places.” It is my role to keep people redirected back to the core values and vision of our congregation.

I believe Christ calls us to empower people with encouragement, tools, and resources to be successful. Every person has been endowed with God given potential that requires nurture and encouragement to blossom and grow.

I believe the Holy Spirit speaks through all people, making collaboration essential for success.

I believe in permission giving, way more than permission withholding.

I favor grace more than law.

I believe the community of faith’s role is discernment of God’s will – individually and collectively.

I believe prayer is an essential means of communicating directly with God.

Worship is our core activity. It must be done with excellence and to the best of our ability.

Worship that is combined with mission serves as the best way to grow our church family. Mission provides depth and meaning to the spiritual journey.

All are welcome at the table. Since all are guilty under the law, I prefer to leave judgment up to God.

Programs ebb and flow; it is just as okay to let go as it is to create. This comes from a confidence in God’s timing.

The only metric I’m concerned with is

  1. Is your heart warmed by Christ?
  2. What are you doing about it?

I believe God has given us all the money we need. If needs become known, it is important that the congregation is informed. The happiest, most satisfied disciples of Christ are those who are most generous.

I tithe because it is the Biblical standard, it serves as an invitation to others to join in the tithing lifestyle, and it helps keep me spiritually healthy.

I believe God gives us all the people we need. If we need more, God will provide. If we are not good stewards of the people we’ve been given, our numbers will decline.

I believe strongly in Safe Sanctuaries and the protection it affords children, youth, and vulnerable adults.

My politic is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I am a lifelong United Methodist. God’s grace, as articulated by John Wesley, is a part of my identity.

It is important for me to be as transparent and authentic as humanly possible.

Also, I don’t like to have access to church money. The only way I should know what you contribute is if you tell me. Giving is fun; and opportunities to spread the joy should abound!

I dismiss all anonymous complaints. If I offend you, please seek me out and tell me! If you see me headed in an uninformed or reckless direction, please inform me!

A Time to Pause and Reflect on the Special Session of General Conference of The United Methodist Church

The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor

West Walworth: Zion and East Rochester United Methodist Churches

March 1, 2019


The mission of The United Methodist Church is to make “disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” After the 2019 Special Session of General Conference, few are paying attention.

Our unique Wesleyan DNA places a particular emphasis on God’s grace and Christian living. The world witnessed the division and conflict exhibited at General Conference in February with disbelief. How can such hurtful words and actions come from Christians known as United Methodists?


1) Decades long conflict over human sexuality continues to undermine and obscure our mission. There is no mission and there is no vision for a denomination at war with itself.

2) We are divided; minds are already made up. Churches know where their congregation stand. Clergy have each come to their own conclusion. Lay people know where their convictions are leading them. Arguing theological and Biblical points of contention will not change deeply held beliefs. It feels like trench warfare, going nowhere, that never ends.

3) Our differences are irreconcilable. We are a global church with great diversity of world views, beliefs, and experiences. The negative side effect of diversity are cries of discrimination. Instead of celebrating the benefits of diversity, we have allowed our differences to usher evil, injustice, and violence into space that should be Holy and safe.

4) The authority of our bishops was significantly undermined when their recommended One Church Plan never made it out of committee and the Traditional Plan was passed 53% to 47%. I wonder how effective our bishops will be in carrying out the discipline of the Traditional Plan.

5) There is nothing Holy about conferencing. Winners are often those who work Robert’s Rules of Order more effectively than losers. Many pray for the Holy Spirit to come, then shut it out with points of order.

6) Reading reflections and listening to many colleagues and lay members makes it clear everyone lost the battle, the wounded are being dragged away, blood trails are everywhere, no one knows where to go next. This is a time of waiting. Leaders who led this bloody fight to a stalemate have had their pride and privilege exposed. Who wants to be led by those who would sacrifice the Church of Jesus Christ simply to get their own way?


1) Cease fire. Stop fighting. End the violence. Lay down all weapons, leave the trenches, be brave enough to walk across no-mans land, and extend a hand of love and charity to those so bitterly opposed. Love enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. The world is watching our behavior and listening to our rhetoric. It better be genuine.

2) Repent. It’s time for sack-cloth and ashes. Let us vow never to allow ourselves to so harm each other ever again. Those who led us to the abyss should surrender authority. Pride, privilege, and ego nearly killed us; it’s time for humility, confession, reconciliation, and love.

3) Agree to a graceful, amicable divorce. No one gets the house. Assets and liabilities should be fairly divided. Allow the divorce to extend to the basic element of Christian faith: the local church.

4) Strip the Discipline of the United Methodist Church of everything except for a common Christ-centered theology with a Wesleyan emphasis on grace. Allow the global United Methodist Church to become an umbrella under which all those of like minds and hearts are encouraged and welcomed to gather.

5) Three beautiful plans are already on the table. Each speaks to a particular group of United Methodist. Each plan could serve as the groundwork for establishing three new denominations moving forward, united by a global United Methodist communion. Encourage clergy, laity, congregations to organize and affiliate with those most closely aligned to their beliefs and conscience.

6) End the fallacy of holy conferencing. Replace it with the Holy Spirit. Make sacred and Holy space for discernment. This requires establishing relationships and building trust that the Holy Spirit is at work in the lives of others as well as at work in my own life. What will this looks like? I don’t know; but I’d love to explore the possibility further.


1) I will love the people who are entrusted to my pastoral care and will serve to the best of my ability as their spiritual leader.

2) I will listen, counsel, love, and pray with all people, regardless of their theological and Biblical beliefs.

3) My sack-cloth and ashes will be a disciplined tongue and tempered behavior that contributes to healing.

4) I will pray and discern the movement of the Holy Spirit in others and in myself. I will look to movement in our Episcopal leaders, our District Superintendents, and our conference delegates, giving them the safe space necessary for progress to be made. I will listen to colleagues and laity alike, listening for the Holy Spirit at work, watching for the presence of the Spirit’s fruits.

5) I will remain true to my ordination vows, to the very best of my ability. I will serve where called and submit when it is the Spirit’s will.

I look forward to the day when we will bring laser clarity to our mission as United Methodists, when our every effort moving forward is to glorify Jesus Christ and to propagate his Gospel, when we can be united by the love and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Love, always- Pastor Todd

The World is On Fire

23 November 2016


The world is on fire

And many delight in its incineration.


Refugees fleeing war

Fill internment camps.

Mothers feed children with anything that fills a hungry belly.

Fathers fight with weapons and words

Until houses are rubble,

Trenches are filled with corpses,

And life becomes devoid of identity.


Hatred has become its own end.

Blaming others and taking pride in pain

Has become the new winning.

Some of the press have been paid off and bought out.

Others are running around with their hair on fire.

Thinking has become an afterthought

And social media has become the bellows stoking the flames.

Facts become lies

And lies are remanufactured into facts.

Money, votes, and power are the golden calf;

The road to Easy Street

Is always just over the hill or around the next bend.


The alternative is drowning;

Drowning in a sea of broken promises,

Being pulled under by terrifying leviathans

That destroy trust and break relationships.

Salvation is promised but never delivered.

There is little wonder why many feel unsafe,

Beaten, robbed, and left for dead.

When the choice is burning or drowning,

Neither do I understand the hubris of

Crowing like a chicken loaded on a truck headed to the slaughterhouse.


“Be still, and know that I am God.”


The Church is being lured into the fight.

Many Christians feel the need to take a side and dig in.

Some disciples of Jesus are committed to confrontation,

Even if it means smashing the altar,

Pouring communion wine down the drain,

And throwing away the keys to the front door.

Staking a claim for the moral high ground

And using scripture to defend it

Is a two-edge sword

That cuts both ways

Leaving behind hemorrhaging lacerations,

Anemic survivors,

And bled out relics.

Meanwhile, individuals and families

Observe the enculturation of the Church to the burning world

And deem it irrelevant,

Preferring the secular over the sacred.

If making disciples for Jesus Christ is the goal,

We’ve been failing miserably for generations.


“Be still, and know that I am God.”


I feel led to hike a different trail;

To sit on my hands,

Discipline the tongue,

And tame the ego.

For me

If ever there was a time to be still and be quiet it is now.

If ever there was a time to wear sackcloth and ashes it is now.

If ever there was a time to reject and repent it is now.

If ever there was a time to listen for the still small voice of God it is now.

If ever there was a time to be the love of Christ in the world

It is now.