Out of Saturday’s General Conference Shame, God Keeps Door Open

A few words describe the debacle that emerged from Saturday night’s failed debate over restructuring The United Methodist Church: Disgust. Mistrust. Manipulation.

The chaotic ending of the work of the 2012 General Conference’s General Administration Committee puts to shame the worst machinations we all decry in the today’s secular politics.

This was Holy Conferencing at its absolute worst.

The committee’s failure to reach any kind of agreement on a better structure for our denomination reflects how much we have come to allow manipulation, back-room dealing, whisper campaigning and a lust for control and power take over our legislative processes.

When I say we, I mean we: Left, Right, Clergy, Lay, Bishops, The Connectional Table, and General Agency executives, staff and board members.

Yet, out of the chaos, I believe there is a solution out there. It’s contained in pieces of the IOT (Interim Operations Team), MFSA (Methodist Federation for Social Action), and Plan B Coalition proposals.

Out of Saturday night’s chaos, God remains present, offering another opportunity to discern God’s will for each of us individually, and for the denomination we all profess to love.

It’s time to set egos aside, put the political and right wing, left wing and turkey wing agendas back in the briefcases computer file folders, and seek where God is leading us. Bring all sides to the table – God’s table – with a strong mediator, and work it out. Then bring it to the floor of General Conference.

Nothing less than the unity of the church is at stake. If we fail, the church fails. If we fail, we will be letting down every United Methodist who voted to send us here to discern a better direction for our denomination. We will be letting down the legacy of John Wesley, who shows us the importance of being connected to one another around the world. And we will be letting ourselves down, for we know we can do better.

We are in a place that reminds me of a devotion I read from shortdailydevotionscom: “When our hope is placed in anything less than the perfect God of the universe, we will live in the darkness of dissatisfaction.”

Taking liberty with Psalm 130:7 from the Common English Bible: “United Methodists, trust the Lord! God is always merciful. God has the power to save you.”

Always.

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The Rev. John Oda. Courtesy of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.

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