Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky’s General Conference Blog Installment 3 | February 24, 2019
By the end of today, the General Conference will have decided which of several plans for “a way forward” it will prioritize for consideration. The day starts with worship, followed by a presentation of the three plans developed by the Commission on a Way Forward (CoWF). Under consideration will be:
The One Church Plan, with the strongest support from the CoWF, the Council of Bishops and a Coalition of Uniting Methodists, Mainstream UMC, the Reconciling Ministries Network, and several other groups
The Connectional Conferences Plan
The Traditionalist Plan
The Simple Church Plan
And a variety of other related proposals.
At stake will be whether to split into groups that uniformly embrace or marginalize LGBTQ people, or whether we make space for United Methodists in different cultural contexts and with different theological understandings to adapt in different ways while remaining united.
The prioritizing process today will give a strong indication of which plan will be perfected and adopted.
As he convened the opening session, Bishop Christian Alstead (Nordic and Baltic Area) reminded us that the football stadium we are meeting in is Church for these three days. All Greater Northwest delegates are in their seats, ready to speak and vote their faith. Observers, staff, volunteers, and advocates are also here and taking their respective roles. Nothing can undermine the gracious and persistent shared life of the United Methodists of the Greater Northwest Area.
We pray with you for a good future for our Church, on this day that is different from all others.
Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky’s General Conference Blog Installment 2 | February 21, 2019
St. Louis is more than just the place where United
Methodists will gather this week.
We have to talk about genocide of Native Americans… This country was built on the genocide of Native Americans and slavery. That’s the foundation of this country.
That’s how genius filmmaker, Spike Lee, summed up the distorted image many Americans have of our nation’s history of discovery, exploration and manifest destiny last week. He was talking about his academy award nominated film, BlacKkKlansman, a documentary about a Black man who joined the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s. But he also referred to his disturbing 2000 film, Bamboozled, which explores the traditions of minstrel shows and blackface, among other racist practices. United Methodists gather in St. Louis this week at a crossroads of America’s history of racial violence.
Gateway to the West Last night on the ride downtown from the St. Louis airport, the Gateway Arch shone in the night sky. It was built as a monument to American Progress and westward expansion across the American continent. But the “expansion” of European Americans across the continent depended upon the removal, displacement and genocide of the people whose home it already was. Cherokee people travelled through St. Louis when they were removed from Appalachia to Oklahoma, Indian Territory. And countless European-American migrants passed through St. Louis passed on their way west along the Oregon Trail or the Santa Fe Trail, claiming land that was not theirs. The Gateway Arch is meant to be a proud reminder of American Progress. Progress came at a cost that is still being paid by the suffering of Native Peoples who lost home, land, language, cultural integrity, social structure, independence, self-sufficiency in its wake.
So, here, on the banks of the Mississippi River, I remember
the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864 in Colorado, led by Methodist minister, John
Chivington. And all the Methodist and other Christian Indian agents who started
Indian boarding schools, where children were ripped from their families and stripped
of culture and identity. I remember Father Wilbur, Methodist minister turned
Indian Agent in 1864, who built the boarding school at White Swan, Washington.
And I learn that just east, across the Mississippi River, eighty
Cahokia pyramid mounds mark the largest pre-Columbian Native American city
north of Mexico, a reminder of the great cultural heritage of the people who
were in this land before Europeans arrived.
Hands Up, Don’t Shoot St. Louis was a destination city during the Great Migration of African Americans from the South in the early 20th Century. Today it is home to roughly equal numbers of African American and White citizens. I remember Anthony Lamar Smith, a 24-year-old African American, shot and killed in 2011 by a police officer found not guilty. And, I remember unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown, shot and killed in 2014 by police in Ferguson, Missouri, 15 miles from where I sit. I remember Hands Up, Don’t Shoot. And the Black Lives Matter.
The Church is Here for Healing Wouldn’t it be something if the Church came to this great city for healing, for peace, for restoration? This morning I pray:
Gracious God, lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. Put our hearts at peace so that we can see this city and all its people; this nation and all its people; this world and all its peoples. Heal our divisions so that we might be a healing presence to each other and your world.
Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky’s General Conference Blog Installment 1 | February 20, 2019
Who will we be in a week? What will become of The United Methodist Church at the special called General Conference that begins on Saturday, February 23rd? Elected lay and clergy delegates from across the United States, Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Philippines will gather to decide the future of The United Methodist Church, after nearly 50 years of disagreement and antagonism over the role of LGBTQ persons in the Church, and in the household of God’s creation.
I’ll be flying to St. Louis by the time you read this, preparing to turn a corner as a church between Saturday and Tuesday. Over the weekend friends sent me off with a hymn by Brian Wren that speaks of God’s love of the deeply flawed Church. I share it today—#590 in your United Methodist Hymnal and also available online here on Hymnary—as a blessing for all who watch, wait, witness, and wonder who we will be a week from today. I travel with the promise that our God “outwits us, spinning gold from straw.”
Come, Holy Spirit, come. Make of us something we do not have the power to ask or imagine.