Beginning tomorrow, 864 voting delegates of the worldwide United Methodist Church will gather in St. Louis for worship, prayer, and deliberation. It’s what our denomination calls “General Conference” (GC) and is the only official decision-making body for the UMC. Normally GC meets every four years. In the last meeting (2016), it was determined to have an additional GC for the express purpose of addressing the United Methodist Church’s policies regarding human sexuality.
The 16 (8 laity and 8 clergy) delegates elected to represent the South Carolina Annual Conference at the 2016 GC are also representing our Annual Conference in this GC, which will meet through Tuesday, February 26th. After prayer, study, and conversation they, like all the delegates, will vote their convictions. Even today we do not know exactly what will be put before them for votes, even less so what will be the outcome. I have talked with delegates, very astute and attentive United Methodists, including our Bishop, and no one has enough information to predict the outcome of this General Conference.
We do have enough information to know that God has called people together to follow Jesus and love God and neighbor. That is what church has been and will be, regardless of the outcome of this General Conference. Central has been in ministry since 1870 and will continue to be on Wednesday because God and Florence still need a church like ours.
You can learn more and follow the proceedings of the General Conference by going to: http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/general-conference-is-happening.-what-can-i-do
I also encourage you to watch a hopeful message from our Bishop (L. Jonathan Holston): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywB3XbDTN4Q.
When the results are announced, I will share those with you. For those wanting a closer look at what is decided and wanting to discuss the topic of the church homosexuality, we are offering a class, beginning March 20. We’re calling it Difficult Discussions, Faithfully Discussed. A course description and registration information follows.
For now, please pray for the General Conference delegates and for all who will be affected by the discussions they have and the results of their decisions.
Difficult Discussions, Faithfully Discussed
Dates: Wednesdays, March 20-April 10
Location: Spears Fellowship Hall
Faithful Christians disagree – and always have. Acts 15 offers a Biblical account of a very difficult discussion over a formerly settled topic. Through the ages, Christians have continued to discuss difficult topics. On our best days, Christians have found ways to listen and share their understandings and convictions that are respectful, honest, and representative of the Lord we serve. Beginning March 20th, class participants in “Difficult Discussions, Faithfully Discussed” will seek to have our best days together as we discuss the topic of United Methodism and homosexuality. The goal of the time shared is to grow as brothers and sisters sorting through a challenging topic, while learning more about the history and perspectives that have led to the latest denominational decisions related to homosexuality. Revs. Meg Jiunnies and Will Malambri will facilitate the class as we explore the different points of view while exhibiting respect and Christian charity. Because of the sensitivity of the subject, the amount of material to cover, including reading a short book together, and the nature of the conversations, we ask participants to pre-register by March 11 and commit to participating in a minimum of 3 of the 4 sessions. You may register by going to https://www.centralmethodist.net/studies and choosing the study called Difficult Discussions, Faithfully Discussed.