Saturday, May 5, 2012

what's next for the UMC?

The General Conference of the United Methodist Church, the decision making body for the denomination I serve in, ended last night with a whimper.  No reorganization plan, even though we have heard for the past couple of years that this was desperately needed, no significant legislation around ordination, no set-aside Bishop to help facilitate the work of the Council of Bishops, we couldn't even agree to disagree on the issue of homosexuality.

I admit that I am naive when it comes to politics and especially church politics, but I had hoped for better from the Church.  But then again, it is a human construct, made up of frail human beings and I do trust that everyone there was indeed doing their best to love God and love one another.

In stunned silence I pondered last night what all of this means for the community where I live and the people I am appointed to serve alongside.  How will the level of dis-trust and anxiety that was obvious in Tampa affect us here in Iowa?  I woke up with more questions than answers.

Today is Wayne Williams funeral.  His pastor was at General Conference this past week, so I am stepping in to lead his community in the celebration of his life, death and resurrection.  These words of comfort, spoken often at the graveside, speak to me today:

In the midst of life, we are in death; from whom can we seek help? Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth. God who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through the Spirit that dwells in you.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also dwells secure.  You, Lord, show me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

I don't think the UMC is dead, but I do think that there is a realization that our hope does not come from the institutional church.  There are those who are unable to wait for the institution to provide the framework, and even the security, that we all crave, but instead are preparing their hearts and minds to step out in faith, to live into their call more fully.  

As the pundits unpack the events of the past two weeks, there are those who will be looking forward not to the next meeting of the General Conference (in 4 years in Portland) but to the places where the Body of Christ can make a real difference in the world.  Pray for them, pray for us all, pray for healing and for hope.

in Christ, together

1 comment:

  1. Good words Deborah for this 'day after.' As an elder in the West Ohio Conference I pondered these same things last night. Thank you for reminding me that the institutional church is not where our hope lies anyway.