I feel I may have been too quick to jump to hope for the United Methodist Church in my post the other day. I read this post by Kevin Watson and he made me realize that perhaps I need to sit with the pain caused by General Conference this year. This year there were backroom discussions, filibusters, and failed petitions that would have made the UMC a more open and accepting denomination. When the judicial council deemed plan UMC unconstitutional people began grabbing for everything they could. A motion was then made to refer the plan to the Council of Bishops and the Connectional Table yet some were taking the Judicial Councils proposal as the word of God and when they saw the word “unsalvageable” they assumed absolutely nothing good could come from Plan UMC. They failed to view the referral as not a way to fix Plan UMC but rather a mandate to continue working towards restructuring. Many then continued to ask pointless questions and get us nowhere. Others claimed revelation by the Holy Spirit or that anyone who did not agree with them was flat out ignorant. This, my brothers and sisters, was United Methodism at its absolute worst.
I spent 72 hours in prayer and fasting in efforts to gain some clarity on what exactly I experiences over the last two weeks. I’m sure I will continue searching for answers but for now I have come to the conclusion that I have no hope for the United Methodist Church as it is today. Throughout General Conference I heard rhetoric that we wanted to be loving, considerate, and inclusive in order to make disciples of Jesus Christ, yet I did not see much action in that direction. I also heard many people say that the future depends on young people yet it was apparent that although the future may depend on young people, the present was not willing to depend on young people. Time after time the voices of young people were not listened to and many of the petitions and amendments that were brought forward to be more inclusive of young voices was shot down.
So no, I do not have hope for the United Methodist Church. At this point in time I simply cannot. I cannot believe in a denomination and a structure that will not listen to the minority voices. Just because I have lost hope in the United Methodist Church, however, does not mean I have lost hope in God nor does it mean that I will be leaving the United Methodist Church. I have lost my hope, but not my love. I still deeply love the United Methodist Church and maybe sometime in the near or distant future I will regain my hope for the denomination as a whole, but for now it is not so. My hope instead lies not in the United Methodist Church but in Christ and in certain United Methodists in whom I see Christ abiding. I have hope in pastors like Narcie Jeter, Rob Rynders, Brad and Megan Gray, and Owen Ross. I have hope in District Superintendents like Tim McClendon, Sara White, and Susan Leonard-Ray. I have hope in professors like Elaine Heath, Hugo Magallanes, and Rebekah Miles. I have hope in bishops like Bishop Carcaño and Bishop Hagiya. I also have hope in certain United Methodist Churches like Grace UMC, Open Table, Urban Village, First Rowlett, and the New Day Communities. I have hope that these individuals and these individual churches will continue to do the work of Jesus Christ but until the minority voices of faith, hope and love become the majority voices at General Conference, my hope will simply have to be tabled like the many other items at General Conference.