Every four years the UMC gathers as a global body to have conversation and make decisions that will guide the UMC for the next four years. This body, called the General Conference, is the only body that can speak on behalf of the entire Church. It is this body that makes rules, clarifies doctrine and approves social principles that govern the UMC. It is composed of approximately 850 voting members of the UMC representing different communities from around the world. I have been elected by my conference to be a part of the delegation from our area. To be clear, I am the last reserve delegate. This means I have a place at the table, I will not be able to vote at General Conference unless the seven people elected before me are unable to vote.
In preparation of the GC, delegates around the world have been given a copy of the book The Causes, Evils, and Cures of Heart and Church Divisions by Francis Asbury. One can image that since this book was shared, there is a possibility that the UMC may break apart over the issue of human sexuality. I may be naive, but while it is possible that individual churches may leave the UMC, I do not see the church splitting in half.
Over the coming months, I wanted to take some time to share thoughts and insights into this process of the General Conference. I know these posts will not be applicable to most people but in case you are interested in these topics I hope they are helpful, informative and faithful.
The first thing that I notice is that when GC2016 is talked about there is always a strong sense that it could be really crazy and wild. It is human nature to think that things will be the worst and conversation about the GC2016 is no different. There are different groups and coalitions and movements and thoughts that are all converging - as they do every four years. The metaphor that I continue to see is that the CG2016 if like a dust storm. The problem is that many people are trying to breathe while in the middle of the storm and it is killing them. So will you join me in efforts to invite people to step back. Breathe deeply. Pause and listen. May we remember that no issue is too great. Judaism continues to exist even after the genesis of Christianity. The Catholic Church continues to exist even after Luther. The Church will continue even after the issues of human sexuality have been argued.