I have been watching the United Methodist General Conference in Portland (a lovely place to gather)through Twitter, Facebook posts, and some incredibly thoughtful blogs. I have many United Methodist clergy friends, having graduated from a United Methodist seminary. I have Methodist friends, and my father and step-mother are active members of a United Methodist church. So, I have watched with interest.
I can only imagine what the delegates and most United Methodists are feeling. Their General Conference has seemed extremely painful for many. Conservatives, Moderates, and Progressives are struggling with what it means to be global church, especially when it comes to full rights and welcome for LGBTQ people. I applaud the brave clergy who have come out as gay or lesbian, knowing that it may cost them their livelihood.
I don’t want this to sound like a higher than mighty post from a Disciples of Christ pastor bragging about our open table and our welcome to all. We have had many difficult, painful discussions at our gatherings. We have said and done harmful things to the LGBTQ community. I confess that we as Disciples still have work to do.
We have conservative, moderate, and progressive members across our movement.Heck, in my congregation we have conservative, moderate, and progressive members. It’s a bit of a tricky dance to make it all work. It’s why I tell people that we are an open table church rather than another label one might use. We are all welcome. No matter what others have chosen to label us we each receive Christ’s love and grace through the power of a shared meal. Far be it from me to tell another (or God) who should and shouldn’t be welcome. After all, God has welcomed me. The very least I can do is to return the favor. This is what I so appreciate about the Disciples.
Things are changing in our culture and in the church. Old power structures which were run by and benefited the privileged few are going away.. This is causing people to act out in fear. We fear anything that would bring us out of old comfort zones.We fear what we don’t understand.
I believe that God always calls us forward, not back. The neat lines and definitions by which we attempt to define God baffle me, as if we can control or determine who God loves and who God calls God’s child.
My prayers are with my United Methodist friends, my brothers and sisters in Christ. I pray that the church may cause no one any more pain, rather it give the life abundant that Jesus promises. My prayer is that there are no winner or losers, rather a church unified by its love for God and all people.I pray that through the pain, we might trust that God is working to bring the fullness of life to the Church and to all people.
Grace and peace