This week the United Methodist Church has been the center of much media attention as the every-four-year global meeting of church delegates, known as General Conference, has convened in Portland, Oregon to determine the direction of ministry for our global church. Among the decisions put before this body was the ordination of gay clergy and whether or not clergy could officiate at same sex weddings and whether or not local churches could host them.
Tensions ran high. Dissension was obvious. There was even talk of a schism.
In an unprecedented move, a request was made from the floor of General Conference on Tuesday, May 17 for the Council of Bishops to present a recommendation regarding the United Methodist Church’s stance on ordaining gay clergy and hosting same sex weddings. The Council of Bishops convened in executive session on Tuesday evening and brought a proposal to the delegates on Wednesday morning. You can read the text of the proposal here >>
The proposal was accepted by the General Conference by a vote of 428 to 405, delaying any debate on legislation regarding issues of homosexuality at this General Conference, in order to let a proposed commission study church regulations and bring a report at least by 2020.
I watched the proceedings on live stream. I was saddened to see the way some delegates spoke of and to their brothers and sisters. But I was proud to see the way delegates from the Great Plains, including Pastor David, worked faithfully toward the full inclusion of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. It brought me hope.
I pray that the United Methodist Church will find a way forward that reflects our insistence on justice and mercy. I invite your prayers as well.
~ Pastor Sandra Cox