As you read this, delegates from around the world will be making their way to St. Louis for a very important “Special Called Session” of our General Conference of the United Methodist Church. Every 4 years - or “quadrennium”- the world United Methodist body gathers to discuss the ministry of the church and make recommendations on our future. We also have a yearly Annual Conference held for all UMC’s in Middle Tennessee and our local church has a yearly “charge conference” as well.
At the last, regular session of the General Conference held in 2016, a decision was made to call a special session to deal with only one issue - an issue that has been a difficult one for us for decades - human sexuality. This has been a contentious issue and many faithful people find themselves with differing opinions.
At that 2016 General Conference, A Commission of 32 persons was elected (16 clergy and 16 lay) to bring a proposal to this Called Session to be held next week. The Commission, called “The Way Forward”, produced three recommendations for consideration. I have circulated among the adult Sunday School Classes to discuss these options as well as the “Family Meeting” held this past Sunday to help folks understand the options, so I won’t rehash all that here.
What I am asking today is a Call To Prayer for every member of our congregation Our church has not faced a decision this weighty in a very long time. The delegates that will represent us (again, an equal number of clergy and laity) need our prayers and the help of God for such a time as this. The Conference begins in earnest on Saturday, the 23rd, and lasts for three days. Would you covenant with me to lift this group of people in prayer each of those days? In addition to all the delegates there, would you offer a special prayer for our own delegation? They are Laity: Jim Allen, Holly Neal, Connie Clark, George Brown and, Clergy: Harriet Bryan, Jacob Armstrong, Stephen Handy and Jackson Henry.
And now having said all that, let me be clear about one other thing - regardless of the decision made at this General Conference, the United Methodist Church will continue and Belle Meade United Methodist Church will continue to be in ministry with those in our neighborhoods, our larger community, our nation, and our world. John Wesley once said of us “Methodists” that, the best is yet to be. It’s true.