I am a member of the United Methodist Church. For those of you who don’t know, the United Methodist Church is holding a special session of the General Conference to make a decision (hopefully once and for all) on whether or not to permit ordained United Methodist pastors to perform same sex marriages and whether or not someone who is openly gay can be ordained as a United Methodist pastor. (There are no other restrictions on homosexuality in the UMC, and this has been the case since 1972.) The vote will take place tomorrow (Tue, 2/26/19), and I’m sure it will be a media circus.
Two of the delegates representing my UMC conference came to speak at my local church the weekend before the conference to explain what was being voted on and how the voting process works. Before beginning the presentation, I was impressed when the husband (who is a UMC pastor – his wife is a layperson delegate) began by saying that he does not care which side of the issue anyone falls on – We are going to behave like Christians. We are not going to talk over one another or be rude to one another. We are going to remember that we all serve the same God and all want to share Jesus with the world.
I did not attend this meeting to express my personal opinion – I attended so I could do my part to help restore unity. There was one point in the meeting where things looked like they might be getting a little dicey. I bowed my head and prayed for God’s intervention, peace, and unity until the moment passed. I have talked with people at my local church who fall on both sides of this issue, and both seem 100% sure that they are “right.” That’s true of many UMC members all over the world, and no matter how the vote goes tomorrow, some local churches may leave the denomination because of it, which saddens me because I don’t recall Jesus emphasizing being “right” but rather being unified:
I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:22-23).
This week, I’d like to explore the topic of whether it is better to “be right” or “be unified.”
To be continued…
[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace pondering over the words, “U right. U right.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]