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We Love Change?

The 2020, yes, that’s right, session of General Conference of the United Methodist Church is set to wrap up later this week. Frankly, it’s too early to know exactly what will come out of this conference as it will take some time to get information to the Annual Conferences and local congregations, but, suffice it to say that some major changes appear to be coming. This GC is the first since the disaffiliation of approximately one quarter of our congregations over issues of human sexuality. Those remaining in the UMC are tasked with visioning what we will look like as we move forward.

 

I can report on one major change in the organization of our church regarding ordination. Two clauses have been removed from further editions of the Book of Discipline. One regards the prohibition against LGBT persons being ordained. It’s gone. I learned just this morning that a further prohibition against ordaining “self-avowed and practicing homosexuals” has also been removed. Folks, this is a sea change in the United Methodist Church!

 

Now to the issue of change. I see my granddaughter once or twice a week. Do I notice her growth each time? Nope. Guess the first thing someone says to her when they haven’t seed her for six months or so? You got it. “My, how you’ve grown!” Sudden change often isn’t sudden at all. It’s a recognition of a series of incremental changes.

 

I lift this up to remind us all that while there have been huge changes at GC, the actual change will be more incremental as the constitutional requirements for change are worked out. The GC is close enough to our 2024 Annual Conference that legislation from GC this year cannot be presented to this year’s AC. To remain within the legal requirements of our doctrine, it will be AC 2025 before these changes are actually wrought. Painfully slow for us, but revolutionary to those who don’t follow us day to day.

 

Of course, change brings—well, change. Just this morning, the Kansas City Star changed the format of their online newspaper. My first reaction? I didn’t like it. Why? Well, it boils down to a simple, “because it’s different.” That’s the nature of change. Do we love it? That’s a mixed bag.

 

The bottom line? Change is coming in the UMC. To some of you, it will appear painfully slow. To some of you, it will appear painfully fast. But my prayer is that for all of us, Christ’s love will continue to bathe our church in grace as we move forward into our now preferred future. Your task? Be in prayer for your church and its people.

 

Meanwhile, Sunday is our third annual Blessing of the Bikes. Be sure to be here as we celebrate those who ride. You’ll get to see some pretty cool machines.

 

We finish our work in the Post-resurrection appearances of Jesus from the gospel of John. We will also celebrate the Lord’s Supper together.

 

See you Sunday,

 

Paul

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