First thoughts of General Conference 2016

To follow is my newsletter article for Trinity United Methodist Church, Waverly, from May 17, 2016. It was written in the midst of the United Methodist Church General Conference 2016.
Charles Dickens' famous book, A Tale of Two Cities, begins with the well known phrase; "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." There are some who would say that this is an apt summation of the two week long United Methodist General Conference that is now underway in Portland, Oregon.

General Conference is the legislative arm of the United Methodist church. The General Conference meets once every 4 years for prayer, reports and legislative action. Last week I was privileged to be able to attend the first week of General Conference. I was there to support of our clergy and lay delegates. I also interviewed Iowans for audio reports that were filed by Rev. Dr Art McClanahan, our Iowa Annual Conference Director of Communication.

The exhibit halls were absolutely wonderful and a showcase of the many ways that United Methodists are in mission and ministry around the globe! The fellowship and worship that I was part of and witnessed was a thing to behold. I joined about 75 others for mid-day communion on Friday that was led by a Bishop totally in sign language - wow!

The challenges come when the delegates are gathered to wrestle over legislative action. There are 864 delegates (1/2 laity, 1/2 clergy) from around the globe each bringing their own languages, contexts and theological opinions to the floor.
The Communion Table for
General Conference
If all you knew about General Conference was from following Twitter or Facebook feeds, you'd think it was a unholy mess, but in reality it is a beautiful living and breathing example of the Body of Christ in action. There are parts that are hurting, there are parts that may not make sense to some, but all are parts of the whole big beautiful messy body that is the GLOBAL United Methodist Church.

I encourage you - I implore you - to set aside time today, tomorrow and Friday to pray for our delegates and the hundreds of support personnel (most of whom are volunteers). Pray for the Holy Spirit to fall afresh upon each one gathered. Pray for wisdom, pray for peace, pray for justice, and most of all pray for God's will to be done.

This morning's bishop opened his leadership with this passage from Paul's letter to the church in Rome, as it is one of my favorites I share it with you today, may this be a guiding passage of scripture for us in the days and weeks to come!

"Love should be shown without pretending. Hate evil, and hold on to what is good. Love each other like the members of your family. Be the best at showing honor to each other. Don’t hesitate to be enthusiastic—be on fire in the Spirit as you serve the Lord!
Be happy in your hope, stand your ground when you’re in trouble, and devote yourselves to prayer. Contribute to the needs of God’s people, and welcome strangers into your home. Bless people who harass you—bless and don’t curse them. Be happy with those who are happy, and cry with those who are crying. Consider everyone as equal, and don’t think that you’re better than anyone else. Instead, associate with people who have no status.
Don’t think that you’re so smart. Don’t pay back anyone for their evil actions with evil actions, but show respect for what everyone else believes is good. If possible, to the best of your ability, live at peace with all people."
Romans 12:9-18 Common English Translation

in Christ, together,

Pastor Deborah


Popular Posts