General Conference finished up their business this past Friday. It started with visions of hope and unity as a way to finally get beyond our denominations 44 year struggle with human sexuality issues.
The months leading up to General Conference were filled with lots of positioning and protests which only intensified as delegates arrived in Portland, Oregon.
The week started out with an announcement that the Council of Bishops were presenting a plan for the denomination to split into 3 theological strains of one denomination. Some were hope-filled and others heart-broken. That was followed up the very next day with an announcement of “Wait! That was only a rumor – the Bishops could not find agreement and had no plan”.
The cry went up for leadership in this trying time. Adam Hamilton begged the Bishops to lead us through this crisis.
The next day their response was: 1) to set aside voting on all of the human sexuality amendments so as to keep the peace and that the Discipline for those sections would stay the same for now. 2) Set up a special Commission to rewrite those sections of the Discipline and to call a special session of the General Conference for as early as 2018 and no later than 2020 in order to vote on the new changes. And, 3) To try to alleviate the pain of charges and trials against pastors in that time. Some were hope-filled and others heart-broken.
In other words, let’s wait 4 more years and hope (?) that we can come to an agreement. And in the meantime we struggle. Is that possible? And is that even the best thing? Again, some are hope-filled and others heart-broken – or heart-sick.
For those of us who floated our dreams to find a point of resolution to this drama at this General Conference, only to see that hope crash and burn it is tragic. It’s like watching mom and dad fight and attack each other and not be able to do anything about it.
And so we wait 3-4 more years in the hope that all will be made right. But I have serious doubts that any Commission or study will do anything but delay the inevitable while we fight and attack each other.
So where is our Hope? It’s not in a denomination. It’s not in another Committee report. It’s not in the hands of our Bishops. I don’t know what changes or direction will end upcoming out of General Conference – but what I do know is this: We will still be a Church of Jesus Christ- Our Vision – Our Mission to transform the world will still be the same. Our Purple Doors will still represent the majesty of God’s Son through our ministry and outreach. In that – nothing has changed.
Your Leadership Team has been regularly discussing the state of the larger United Methodist Church and our church’s place in it. They are assessing things as they play out and will continue to keep the church informed.
Please continue to pray for your Purple Door Church, as well as the United Methodist Church as we seek our path to God’s Kingdom.