As I write this, United Methodists from all around the world have converged on Portland, Oregon for General Conference. Now for any of you not familiar with how the United Methodist Church (UMC) works, here’s my very simplified breakdown. The UMC considers itself to be a global church and it is. Within the worldwide structure of this church are Annual Conferences…I serve in the Western North Carolina Annual Conference. Every four years, members of each Annual Conference are elected to attend General Conference. This is the denomination’s top legislative body for all matters affecting the United Methodist connection.
Needless to say, being connected to so many people with the United Methodist world, my Twitter feed, Facebook, and even Instagram have become overwhelmed with #UMCGC. I know several people in attendance at General Conference, many of whom have chosen to blog about the experience. In my world, it is impossible to not be confronted by General Conference, and yet I find it quite difficult to wade through all the material people are putting out there. But this is a statement I need to clarify…sure, I can literally understand what people are saying in their blogs and social media feeds. The difficulty for me comes in wading through all the opposition. Sure, our church faces several issues currently, but it is heartbreaking to see church leaders, both famous and even people I converse with on a weekly basis decisively taking sides.
Even now, as some of you read this I’m sure you’re looking for my agenda. I can promise you that I have no agenda in this message other than to plead for you to be in prayer for us as United Methodists. I recently sat in a church meeting where we were planning our summer worship series. The key emphasis is on missions, especially as it pertains to our first endeavor in international missions this spring in Guatemala (see my previous blogs for details). It was so refreshing to sit around the table and simply discuss Kingdom Building ministry, to talk about how our church is living into its vision to be the hands, feet, & heart of Jesus Christ.
Sure, I realize that we can’t bury our heads in the sand. There are issues that all Christians, not just United Methodist must deal with, but as we do, I pray that we do so as the hands, feet, and heart of Jesus Christ. I close with these words, the words of John Wesley:
I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside by thee.
Exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.