General Conference 2016 and You
From May 10th to 20th there will be a whole lot of Methodism happening in Portland. United Methodism is organized such that we have a meeting every four years of the global church called General Conference, and at this meeting we are able to change or retain the rules and official statements of the church. There, we set priorities, which is where the Imagine No Malaria campaign stemmed from.
At this meeting human sexuality will likely be hotly debated. There will be many arguments about how we should structure ourselves, such as how much autonomy our jurisdictions have, how our various agencies are directed, managed, and funded, and there may even be some who wish to talk about fragmenting the United Methodist Church. This last item is unlikely, but within the purview of the General Conference.
I cannot guess with any likelihood of accuracy how the conference is going to come out on specific topics. But I can guess that almost no one is going to walk away from this meeting feeling that they got exactly what they wanted. And this is the work of the church, not to please any individual, not to think that any of us have it exactly right, but to move towards a life of love and grace imperfectly, as best we are able.
If church politics is interesting to you, I invite you to follow the action of General Conference through social media, YouTube, the official website (www.umc.org), and other sources.
For all of us, whether you are invested in our process or not, I ask you to pray for peace, discernment, and for God’s love to shape the interactions of the participants of General Conference.
Lastly, I want to share with you that our rules, set by a previous General Conference states that “The local church provides the most significant arena through which disciple-making occurs.” (¶201) This is vital stuff, as the mission of The United Methodist Church is “To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” The local church is where the action is at.
So regardless of what actions are taken by the 2016 General Conference, know that we will continue to be the people of God at work in our community. We will witness to the love of God through our actions and words, and will continue to embrace all people as beloved of God.
Your brother in Christ, Pastor Dan Benson