The results of our United Methodist special called General Conference are in. From Feb. 23-26 in St. Louis, more than 800 delegates from across the globe met, prayed, did their best to discern God’s will for our church, voted, and went home. At the end of the day, by about a 53-47% majority, delegates chose to adopt the Traditional Plan option, despite heated disagreement from many representatives. Frankly, time ran out before the work of the General Conference was completed.
In general, the existing policy of the United Methodist Church remains the same, although the Traditional Plan seeks to strengthen enforcement of the rules found in our Book of Discipline. It remains to be seen how much of the Traditional Plan will be deemed to be constitutional when our Judicial Council meets in April.
General Conference also adopted at least one “gracious exit” plan, that would make it easier for churches to leave the denomination if they do not agree with the teachings of the United Methodist Church. There are constitutional issues here, too.
Many persons are hurting because they believe they have been excluded from full inclusion in the life and ministry of our church. We need to pray for them, and for our church in general. We need to remember that we believe that ALL persons are of sacred worth.
Other people are angry because they wanted and expected our church to change its policies on the subject of human sexuality. We need to pray for them, and we need to pray for those against whom great anger and frustration was directed during the General Conference.
Still others believe that our General Conference did not do enough to enforce Biblical teaching. We need to pray for them, and help them reach an understanding of what has transpired.
Everyone in our church needs prayer. We need to pray for and care for and lift up our brothers and sisters in Christ, most especially those with whom we may not always agree. We need to pray for our own continued discernment of God’s will.
Friends, it seems likely that much of this will continue at our regular quadrennial General Conference in 2020. Please pray, and keep praying as we go to this year’s Annual Conferences and select delegates who will represent us in 2020.
Now to the point of this post. I also think we need to consider the possibility, that despite all the noise, anger, frustration, recriminations, finger-pointing and so on, maybe God WAS speaking. Are we listening?