Sorry this is a day late.
A month from today, the United Methodist Church will be almost half-way through General Conference 2019, the process whereby we will determine our church’s position on matters of human sexuality. That position will be consequential.
In my research to understand the deep ramifications of General Conference 2019, I came across this article about the various petitions that will be the materials of debate at GC2019. What I appreciate is the many links that are contained within the article. It might be a bit arduous, but following those links will help one understand both the scope of GC2019 as well as its limitations.
One such link introduces to the worship leader for GC 2019 (and GC 2020). Whereas the headlines will be about legislation and social stances, worship will be a regulating feature of the conference. I mentioned last week how delegates on the Commission on a Way Forward would debate the tough topic of human sexuality from very different positions and then go to dinner together afterwards. In the same vein, I know that worship done well has not only a regulating effect but a healing effect as well. Ultimately, that is what is at stake at GC2019. LGBTQ United Methodists find the church shutting them out of the church they love. Others find that the church is ]wavering on a topic they think is clear and biblical. What does God want from this considerable breech of trust? I think healing is the $1M answer.
[Let me say that as a pastor, I cannot always consider both sides of an issue to be equal. But there is also a time for restraint. Ultimately, I think that Christians need both the space to believe what they believe and the loving challenge to consider how their beliefs impact others. Until we reach perfection, we will all most likely believe things that turn out to be false. This is why it is so important for Christians to “walk humbly”. We claim the great power of the Holy Spirit–God’s own presence–guiding our lives. But we remain human driven by unconscious and unconfessed biases. Striving for perfection in part means examining our souls deeply and regularly in an effort to drive out those falsehoods that linger.]
Again, worship is usually awesome at our larger conferences. I am wondering, can hearts be melted enough at GC2019 that people can come off their perches and speak to one another with love, wisdom and respect? I am deciding to hold out hope for GC2019.
Please remain in prayer for General Conference. Please pray for humility for all the delegates. Pray also for the worship team who has the promising but challenging task of injecting the spirit into the proceedings.