Like many of you, I have spent the last few days watching the live feed of the special General Conference convened in St. Louis, Missouri. It began with a day of prayer, emphasizing this essential part of our faith practice. Songs of praise were lifted up throughout the day, mostly in English. The day ended as it began, with a loving embrace of the Lord who embraces each of us. It was a blessed time for the delegates, observers and those of us watching from around the world.
Sunday came and I had questions. I am not well versed in parliamentary procedure, and I did not have the ADCA book in hand to follow paragraphs referenced, and lines amended. I couldn’t look to the rules to affirm which motions and procedures were out of order. I only had a limited view of the room. Cameras either focused on the presider or those called to microphones. Other delegates were never seen. Groups of people, or where they were from were never shown.
So, I have questions. As the Traditional Plan passed and the other plans were not considered, I have questions. I do not know the content of the plan, nor which matters were being referred to the Judicial Council. As I heard impassioned speeches by those who support the Traditional Plan and those who are wounded by its passing, there is much I still want to know.
Our Bishop has asked us to take the time to reflect upon what has happened. We will be receiving correspondence from him over the next several days, which I hope will answer the questions that remain in most of our minds. I understand that some are angry, discouraged and disheartened by the decision of General Conference. I also understand others are relieved, reinvigorated and renewed that the majority of the delegates have affirmed what is currently in the United Methodist Book of Discipline.
In the midst of all the questions I have, I ask of each of us, as we begin to take the next step in our journeys of faith, is to continue to love one another, offer grace to one another and continue to pray for one another. Yesterday was painful to watch. Again, seeing it from the live feed, and being unable to hear all that was happening away from the cameras was frustrating. I know that those who were presiding over the last day’s session asked for grace, compassion and respect. As the day continued, I saw less and less of that.
And so, I have questions. About what happened. About who couldn’t be heard because their names were not called from the pool. About being more concerned about the order of the day than the need for people to provide witness and testimony on this historic decision. About the protest that began. About the 15,000 plus signatures from the young people. I will wait for answers before I make any decisions. For now, I will continue to pray for those who left General Conference with a sense of accomplishment and those who left weeping from the deep wounding of their hearts.
May we continue to lift one another up in prayer, trusting in our Lord who loves each of us, His children and His creation. And Amen.