I feel a deep need today to unpack some of what took place at last week’s General Conference meeting held in St.Louis. A lot of this is very raw and I am alert to my own emotions surrounding the decision.
I grew up in the Methodist, and then United Methodist, Church. I was educated by the United Methodist Church and have had a 42 year career with my church that has blessed my marriage and baptized our children and sustained us and nurtured us all that time. The best friends I have had in my life came through the church. I have buried close family and friends with the help and love of the church. My life is infinitely better because of our church. To say that I love our church would be a gross underestimation.
The primary reason I love our church is that we are a diverse church. Sitting in our pews every Sunday are people with conservative viewpoints and liberal viewpoints and everybody in between. This is the genius of United Methodism when it is at its best. This is when we most look like the Kingdom of God--all of us together, even in our differing opinions and beliefs.
What took place in St. Louis is what our church looks like when it operates far less than its best. Please allow me to say this as succinctly as I know how. John Wesley gave the church 3 Simple Rules-the first of those rules was “DO NO HARM”. What we did in St. Louis caused harm. Whether or not you agree or disagree with the outcome of the conference, we must all confront the reality that this decision hurt a lot of people. Not just persons who identify as LGBTQIA, but also those who dream of an inclusive church as a genuine witness to God’s grace on this Earth.
What I also know is that there was not just one “resurrection” 2000 years ago--there have been and will continue to be deaths and resurrections in our church. God is still at work with us. There is much to be done.
I feel the need to say I’m sorry to those who have felt harmed by their church. God loves all of us. ALL of us. Let our prayer be for discernment as we move forward. Let our prayer be how to live more faithfully and how to be a more Christ-like church.
And let me offer once again the invitation to enter into conversation. I doubt it will surprise anyone that I was personally hoping for a more inclusive church. But I know not everyone agrees with me about that. Please hear me loud and clear--it is OK for us not to agree about this. Our disagreement over an opinion doesn’t make either of us bad people. So let’s talk about how we feel and find the common ground where we can meet.
I love our church--and I love you. And I know you love me. And I know we love each other. In the end, that’s what matters.
Wesley said, “Do No Harm, Do Good, and Stay In Love With God”. Amen to that.