2019 UMC Immersion

DAY ONE: Under Pressure/Special Session of the General Conference

O LORD God, who seest that we put not our trust in any thing that we do…

begins the collect for today, the second Sunday before Lent in the Church of England and part of our tradition. It is known as Sexagesima Sunday, one of three Sundays prior to Lent that previously helped count the forty days. Today this time is set aside for pre-Lenten reflection. Hold that thought as I share the first day’s reflection with you, here at the Dome in St. Louis, where we are deciding the fate of the United Methodist Church.

Message from Presiding Bishop

The presiding bishop Ken Carter preaches on stories- the one God made possible, that your story is not the only story and that there is danger in thinking there is only one story. That sounded much like a postmodern appeal, where the conservatives are focused on one story, their own metanarrative.

What Happens Today?

Today in conference the delegates will elect a legislative committee. That committee will then vote on petitions and plans as priorities- which means those that given priority, will be given more time for discussion.  At the end of session today, two non-controversial bills on pensions were moved out of committee to the delegates.

Members of the Commission on the Way Forward

Members made statements but notable for us is PSR alum Brian Adkins- Brian stated he was “an openly gay pastor” and that he needed “to speak to his own people and gay people in Methodist Churches throughout the world; that no matter what happened in this room there will always be a place at the table for you.” Brian reminded us we are an “Easter People.” In a room full of would be leaders, finally one actually emerges. This is the only Lent tie in so far in our day.

Pre-Lenten check-in

It is curious with Ash Wednesday so close, that worship here at General Conference has not been in this long tradition of preparing for Lent. This silent space within the liturgical year seems to lurk behind a glass darkly. The irony is that the LGBTQ siblings have emptied themselves simply to be here, whereas the conservatives who claim tradition, seem totally unaware of it. Whatever the outcome is for the UMC, it can be contextualized in this obscure but powerful time of pre-Lenten preparedness.

– Bill Miller