Woodward: Accurate, fair, objective journalism important

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Perhaps some of you have picked up an article that originated with a newspaper in St. Paul concerning Grove United Methodist Church in the Cottage Grove area.  The original article put forth assertions that older people were asked to leave the church and begin worshipping somewhere else. 

Within a very short time the content of this news release spread like wildfire.  A variety of news outlets and various forms of media shared the story and soon it became a news item on television, social media and other national platforms.  I was looking at messages on my computer when the news item began to circulate.  Wow!  It took off with amazing speed and soon people began to express a variety of feelings, opinions and reactions.

In recent days, it became apparent that there were inaccuracies and misinformation in the original news release.   It is regrettable when misinformation causes hurt and damage in the public arena.  I am very grateful for this local venue to offer an opportunity to offer a full, balanced and objective presentation.

The Grove United Methodist Church in Cottage Grove is going through a process of seeking to bring renewal to the congregation and to reach out to the growing suburban community.  The process the church is going through involves temporarily closing the small church in order to reopen it later in the year.  In this endeavor, some perceived that older members were being asked to leave or worship elsewhere.  It appears this was not the case.  However, the church’s personality, character and ways of doing ministry would most likely change as the “new” church begins to emerge in November.  In all of this, there may have been some misunderstandings, misperceptions and hurt feelings.

It should be noted that no one was ever asked to leave the local congregation.

But, again change can be perceived as a threat to things that we cherish:  security, tradition and a sense of belonging.

We live in a day and age where there is much change in the world around us.  Technology and life move at amazing speed and sometimes the things we cherish and need the most change right before us and we begin to feel threatened and confused.  The church, regardless of denomination or tradition can be affected.

I am very blessed to be able to share in ministry with the Maple Leaf Parish of the United Methodist Church in Spring Valley, Cherry Grove and Fountain.  We, too, are committed to vitality, innovation, creativity and love-filled ministry to the communities we serve.   We are committed to faithful, vital and energetic ministry all to the glory of God!

We are thankful for intergenerational ministry in which people of all ages learn and grow from each other.  When people of all ages work and share together remarkable things happen to the glory of God.  It is a blessing to share with each other on the journey of life each and every day.

Persons are invited to go online to various news sites to see corrected versions of the story which caused so much consternation and alarm.  It is good for people to seek after balanced and objective journalism.

I want to express sincere appreciation to David Phillips, editor of this newspaper, for the opportunity to submit this article.   Yes… accurate, fair and objective journalism is very important.

The Rev. Mark Woodward serves the Maple Leaf Parish of the United Methodist Church in Spring Valley, Cherry Grove and Fountain.