I returned home this week from the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference of the United Methodist Church.
I was a delegate to this historic conference that was addressing the church’s position on human sexuality. I was asked by the North Texas Conference to write some thoughts on what happened in St. Louis.
For those who don’t what we hoped for didn’t pass and some draconian legislation did pass. Legislation that will be found to be unconstitutional according the church law in April. I say that will happen because the Church Judicial Council has already ruled that it is unconstitutional, and nothing was changed in the legislation that was approved.
However, it was a deeply painful moment as we saw the United Methodist Church crumbling before our eyes. A church that I have been a part of since I was born. A church that has been my family.
Those of you who know me know that I am by profession a marketing and public relations guy. You may also know that I am married to an attorney. Sometimes I like to say that the difference between the way that I think and the way that lawyers think is that lawyers look at a glass that is half full and ask, “What happens if the glass gets empty?” while marketers say, “How do we fill the glass?”
What does that have to do with the 2019 General Conference?
I have been struggling with what would I say after this Conference ended. How would I explain what happened here? Or where do we go from here? How do we fill a glass that is broken?
If you watched the streaming broadcast of the General Conference you saw that brokenness. We are a church in pain. But we are a resurrection people. We know that after 3 days something amazing can happen.
I think there may have been a Kairos moment for the church on Tuesday after the failure of the One Church Plan. Many of the delegates and the bishops that supported the One Church Plan moved to the center of the conference floor where we prayed and sang together. This may have been a Kairos moment—a moment that we will point to in the years to come as a time that something new was born.
After the crucifixion the disciples did not know what would happen, and it wasn’t until Pentecost that the church was born. So now we watch and wait.
I do want to say a word about the amazing work of the North Texas Conference delegation–dedicated faithful people that have represented the conference for the last 5 years–the longest serving delegation in the history of the North Texas Conference. It has been an honor to serve with them. These have been the most difficult General Conferences in the history of the United Methodist Church. We have cried together, sung together, prayed together and held onto each other throughout this process. These people are truly disciples of Jesus Christ who have sought to transform our church and our world.