On Tuesday February 26 the General Conference voted to pass the Traditional Plan as our way forward as the United Methodist Church. This plan will keep in the Discipline the current language prohibiting clergy from preforming same-sex weddings as well as prohibit self-avowed practicing homosexuals from entering the clergy. The plan also institutes mandatory penalties for those who violate these aspects of the discipline. As I understand, this plan will go into effect January 1, 2020. It is important that you understand this is not the end of the conversation, already I have seen several vows to continue to push for full inclusion of homosexuals within the life and ministry of the church.
Here is my reaction to the events in St. Louis. Today is a day for humility both for those whose desire was to see the passing of one of the defeated plans and for those who advocated for the Traditional Plan. We said going into General Conference we believed the Holy Spirit was at work. I believe the Holy Spirit did work, not in the passing of the Traditional Plan (I make no judgment on that), but in exposing the areas were we as a denomination need to grow and heal. I was horrified by the arrogance, hostility, and venom I saw particularly on social media. A quick glance at #gc2019 will reveal how bitter and disconnected people feel over the acceptance of the Traditional Plan and it is the duty of those who support it to humbly listen to these remarks. We must recognize there is a deep wounding which has been touched in this decision. Likewise, among these remarks were cruel bigoted words which showed a lack of respect for those who support the direction of the UMC. And most troubling to me were words representing an intellectual colonialism from those whose stated concerns are love and justice. We must do better if we want to represent the Holy Spirit.
But what I saw most in General Conference is my need to be right, my insulated self which only listens to the like minded without meditating on the lives of others. I saw in the General Conference and its responses the lack of understanding I often have to my brothers and sisters. We as a denomination are still at a crossroads and I think the Holy Spirit has shown us that we need to work on our hearts before we will move forward in unity. This is frightening because if I lay aside my conviction, I might never be able to take it up again. Loving my brother and sister might mean that I listen and only slowly guide always asking questions, never proclaiming my thoughts. But Jesus says of those who wish to lead they should be servants of all. I am convinced the Holy Spirit was present in St. Louis revealing where my heart needs to be cleansed before I can fully encounter and proclaim the love of God.
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