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Expectations help define experiences. Unrealistic expectations will insure a disappointing outcome. Consequently, it is always a good thing to have a sense of what one expects as an outcome of an experience.

The General Conference of the United Methodist Church is meeting in Charlotte NC this week. General Conference is the world meeting of United Methodists, held every four years. The main task of the General Conference is updating and amending the language in The Book of Discipline, our denominational rule book. Of course, thanks to the pandemic, the General Conference schedule has been upended due to travel and gathering restrictions. This General Conference is actually the 2020 Conference, postponed.

As most of you know, human sexuality has been at the forefront of many conversations, both in churches and in society. There is a clause in our current Book of Discipline that declares homosexuality to be incompatible with Scripture. Consequently, homosexual persons have not been welcomed into the life and leadership of the church. Pastors are prohibited from officiating gay weddings. Persons of any sexuality other than straight are prohibited from ordination and appointment as clergy. This has caused much controversy within our communion and has led to schism as about one quarter of our congregations have disaffiliated from the denomination. The General Conference, in session ss we speak, is charged with finding a way forward through this morass.

Here’s what I believe won’t happen, so I have no such expectations. I don’t believe that the world body will find common ground surrounding this issue. It simply seems unreasonable to expect United Methodists from around the world to come to agreement regarding how we view this issue. We should acknowledge this and work toward preventing further splintering, which hurts the witness of the church.

My prayer is for us to grant more autonomy to Annual Conferences, or Central Conferences of several like-minded Annual Conferences as it pertains to how they will order their polity regarding this issue. Provision should be made for these conferences to fully welcome gay persons into the life and leadership of their congregations. The alternative seems to be further schism. The more we expect a group to march lock-step regarding every issue, the smaller the group will be. I pray that the church will not come to that.

Much smarter persons that I are currently conferencing. Our task is to hold the General Conference and its delegates in prayer that God’s grace will prevail and Jesus Christ will be glorified. Please pray with me for General Conference.

Our work together Sunday will find us back in the upper room as Jesus has another encounter with the disciples.

See you Sunday,


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