Dear Friends in Christ,
If you expected something from me last night about General Conference, rest assured that it was wise to let myself breathe and possibly allow you to as well. I, like many of you, have experienced all the emotions associated with grief…denial, despair, anger. Oh so much anger!
I am not going to go into too many details about the conference decisions today and an analysis of that. That will be in the pastor’s article in the next Evangel which will be coming out soon. However, here I want simply to say a few things.
First and foremost, I say to my LGBTQ+ siblings that I am sorry. I am sorry that The UMC, the church in which I have been ordained, the church from which I make my living and live out my vocation, has hurt you so and has acted in ways so contrary to the Gospel. I ask for forgiveness for my complicity in that hurt.
I know that so many of you are disappointed, if not surprised, by the outcome of the conference. I know that many of you are so tired of this. I see you whether you are LGBTQ+ or an ally, and I see your pain, fatigue, and frustration. It’s natural for us to ask “What now?” I have heard from several people, none from Trinity, reach out to me to ask what they should do now…mainly they are wondering if they should leave The UMC. I can’t answer that question for them. You may be asking yourself the same question. I can’t answer that question for you either. I do know I would grieve even more deeply if anyone decides on that course, but I would not begrudge anyone. I can listen and process with you. I encourage you to give yourself permission to rest, to let others love on you, to have all the feelings you have.
I also want to remind us all that God is still sovereign and that God is at work even in what we may see as darkness. I know that God is making a way for the inclusiveness of the kingdom in the church. I have seen signs of hope in that in so many places since the vote yesterday. The United Methodist Church is broken now, but as Vance Havner observes, “God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength.” And God knows just how broken The United Methodist Church is, and yet God can and will make a way.
So again, “What now?” I pray that in the coming days that we will continue to reflect that light of God’s love even in seeming darkness. I will show up on Sunday to preach the Gospel of grace and love for all. I’ll wear my rainbow stole. I will invite everyone to the table….EVERYONE! I hope that we as community will continue to reflect that light through a welcome of all and a commitment to God’s justice, no matter how slow it seems that it’s coming, despite our pain, our fatigue, and our frustration.
Thank you, Trinity UMC, for your witness all these years. As we sang last week, we shall overcome. We don’t know what that looks like now, but our faith tells us that we will.
In Christ's love,
Here is a very brief summary of what happened yesterday at General Conference:
—The One Church Plan that would have allowed contextual practices of inclusion was presented as a minority report was defeated in the morning.
—The Traditional Plan which affirms the current language in the Discipline and seeks stronger punitive measures for violating it passed by 54 votes. It had already been deemed by the Judicial Council to be largely unconstitutional. It passed anyway. It will be reviewed by the Judicial Council in the form that was passed and will likely never be implemented.
—Shortly before adjournment, the conference approved a disaffiliation (exit) plan for congregations wishing to leave the connection.
—There were serious allegations of bribery made against some US conservative caucus groups that were referred to the ethics committee. I have no idea what will come of that.