Skip to main content

general conference: part 2


general conference is over. when i wrote about it 12 days ago, i was full of energy and hope about the work of the conference. i really thought that the denomination was going to shed some status quo and embrace some new ways of doing things, and while there were little signs of that here and there, it appeared to me, at least from the outside, like we mostly kept things the way they've been.
the most attention-grabbing part of the general conference, or the part the media is always interested in, is our stance on homosexuality. this was a particularly disappointing part of the general conference for me. since 1972 we have a bit in our discipline in the social principles that says that homosexuality is "incompatible with christian teaching." this language is difficult to maintain in our discipline because Biblical interpretation is used convincingly on both sides of this arguement. this year, a group brought a resolution that was a bit of a comprimise: instead of saying homosexuality is good or bad, it simply suggested that we get rid of the "incompatible with christian teaching" bit and admit that we are a denomination that is struggling with this issue, submitting ourselves to God's wisdom, and committing ourselves to love everyone.
this seemed like a reasonable resolution, but it did not pass. instead, the conservative arm of the church was able to convince the conference to strengthen the language in the discipline against homosexuality.
again, for me personally, i'm not even that concerned at this point about whether its right or wrong. i just know that for many young people (the kind of people that the church is saying we want to be more relevant to) homosexuality is no longer an issue. we are spending valuable time and energy and money arguing about sex, while so many of our young people shrug their shoulders and say, "what's the big deal?" in the meantime, we are flushing our relevance down the cultural commode. we become known (fairly or not) as one of those denominations that fights about sex all the time.
so i was a bit disappointed overall in the work of general conference. i think some good things happened, too, and i'll be interested to see how the legislation that passed makes its way through the system and eventually into local churches. but overall, i continue to walk in hope that despite the brokenness of the church, and how bound and determined she seems to fade into irrelevance, she is alive and able to reach the least and the lost with a love that the rest of the world cannot offer. i believe this. lord, help my unbelief (again)!
grace and peace,
greg.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Pastor - my heart breaks today because i am ashamed to be a united methodist. not because of any stand i might take on any particular issue but because this is the example we show to the world. and we wonder why we continue to dwindle. but next sunday i will be in my seat at worship and i will continue to give my tithe as a united methodist and share my ministry and give my life for Christ as a united methodist. because it was there that god met me through the prayers and work of other united methodists. but for today i am discouraged. when did we forget that we are just beggars who found bread and that our only job is to show other beggars where they can get some too? julid

Popular posts from this blog

#thoughtsandprayers

i made these comments and prayed the following prayer at one of our worship services at SPWF yesterday, and had a few folks asked if i would post them, so there they are: 
It has been a season of terrible tragedy.  And I have noticed in the news a trending phrase: thoughts and prayers.  It even has its own hashtag on twitter and other social media, but net necessarily in a good way.  People are understandably tired of hearing about others’ thoughts and prayers, when that is only a thinly-veiled way of saying that our only obligation to those who suffer is a brief moment of silence, or nothing more than a tweet or public statement.  The truth is that, for those of us who follow Jesus, much is required when our neighbors suffer.  We are called to do justice where we can, to love kindness and mercy, and to walk with God through it all.  But let us be careful not to throw out the proverbial baby with the bathwater.  We are, as people of faith, those who know that prayer is not simply an em…

a divided tree

there is a tree in my back yard.  i'm pretty sure it's an oak tree.  at least that's what i think Shannon told me.  i don't know my oaks from my maples, my elms from my locusts.  to me, it's a tree: a corinthian column bursting up into life and glory.  full of sap and pulp and rings and bugs and cells pulsing with water and always reaching for something.  it is full of rhythm, reach and flourish then fall and die, and repeat. 

this particular tree, though, isn't of one mind. 

half of it's rusted orange leaves have given up their grip and surrendered -gracefully or not - to the pull of gravity and the threat of winter.  the north side of this inauspicious oak is just about bare naked, all sticks and straight lines, a skeleton of itself.  but the side that looks south is stubbornly resisting change.  no longer green, the leaves have compromised their summer vibrancy, but they are clearly not ready to concede death just yet. 

i feel like i can relate to this …

vote. and pray. but do not be afraid (the King is alive).

i'm not sure how many americans right now are feeling optimistic about the government.  i know i'm not.  in fact, while i didn't live through the civil war or anything, i have to think that faith in our elected leaders - indeed the whole system of electing them in the first place - is at one of its lowest points.  i just don't have a great deal of confidence in those individuals who have been elected, or in those who want to be.  i find myself slipping at times into what feels like a swamp of apathy: sinking, to be sure, but not sure that i care enough anymore to do much about it.  i see this attitude all around me: in conversations, on social media, and in popular culture.  perhaps there is no more clear indication of our nation's view of the government than this current election season, when we would teeter on electing liars and thieves, crooks and clowns. 

which is why i was so startled as i sat down to read psalm 72 this morning. as i read the ancient song, i…