General Conference May 17, 2016
So I left you with the thought that something was going to happen, and it has. Tuesday morning at the 7 am Jurisdictional meeting, five of our bishops joined us and shared on the explosion that occurred on social media about the UMC splitting. They assured us that the media was once again printing stories that were not true, and that they the bishops were all committed to working on deep unity for our world-wide church. Then at about 2:30 pm, one of the delegates made a motion to have the bishops LEAD our broken church by giving us a plan on how to move forward and not just preside at the plenary. The motion was not demanding and the bishops could accept the responsibility and provide a plan or not. That motion passed and the bishops began to gather and pray and work on a response for the body of delegates. They worked long into the evening to discern what they might present. For those of you who are not sure what main issue there is for our church here in our country, it is the wording in our Book of Discipline concerning the Lesbian Gay Bi-sexual Transgendered persons within our church. There is a great deal of shame and hurt that is focused toward this community, both lay and clergy.
This morning – Wednesday, The bishops presented their “Offering For A Way Forward” which contained statements on Unity/ Prayer/ Processes/ Next Steps and Continuing Discussions. This is a new thing! There is hope among many people and still pain and fear among many others. At one point a delegate made an accusation against the presiding bishop asking that bishop to step down. The bishop then called for a short recess to confer with the other bishops. Wow – our African brothers and sisters began singing and motioning others to join them. They were singing “Alleluia”, though it took some time to understand what they were singing. It turned out that they were calling for the Holy Spirit as they disapproved of what had just happened. The bishops took this all very graciously and the same bishop continued to preside.
Everyone is tired and emotions run high; there is much work to be done and distractions are common. The sermon this morning was on evil that we all deal with, and our need to realize that we do indeed need to recognize evil and be strong in our Christian faith to deal with it.