No Way Forward in Sight
Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky’s General Conference Blog
Installment 4 | February 25, 2019
By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
To give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death
I’m writing to people who awaken to shadows this morning, after yesterday’s actions at the General Conference. I’ll address the rest of you another time. I care about all of you, and I have worked to ensure that there is space for a wide diversity of people in our United Methodist Church. But today, I suffer with those who suffer.
We knew yesterday that the prioritizing process would give an indication of the will of the Conference. It did. Wespath proposals for the future of pensions received
The action to consider the Traditional Plan first was deeply harmful to LGBTQ people, and all who support their full inclusion in the Church and its ministries. It suggests that our global church is not ready to extend the recognition and blessing of the Church to LGBTQ
General Conference will reconvene this morning in a day-long legislative session, beginning by perfecting the Traditional Plan, followed by consideration of all the other petitions that are properly before the body. Protests and lamentations will undoubtedly erupt. Common wisdom is that, while these are understood and tolerated in a North American democratic context, they are seen as disrespectful and further polarizing to delegates from other parts of the world.
So, the walls do not seem likely to come down today, though I am eager to be proven wrong!
Questions that come to my mind are:
- Do delegates from around the world understand the cost of adopting the Traditional Plan—how it will weaken the church’s institutions that maintain global mission initiatives, disaster relief, educational, health, economic and agricultural initiatives
?Howit will weaken the credibility of the Church in America, where more than 70% of people accept homosexuality and homosexual marriage.
- How should and will United Methodists around the world who have waited and worked for a step toward full inclusion of LGBTQ people react if the Traditional Plan is adopted? Will they be defeated? Defiant? Will they leave? Will they stay? Will there be more church trials? Fewer trials?
- Having done its best to find a way forward, how do I, or any of us, live in, and lead the Church if all it can do is double-down on policies that have divided us for decades?
- How do we continue TODAY to bear witness to the way we have seen God at work in and through the lives of Christian LGBTQ siblings? How do we stand in solidarity as they are once again told they are unworthy?
Don’t get me wrong. I am not without hope. But I am sobered. And I am keenly aware that it is possible that we will fail to move forward.