On the evening of December 31, 1999, First UMC of Rawlins Wyoming hosted a Y2K gathering at the church. We prayed, played games, and ate. We danced like it was 1998, as we waited to see what would happen. Would computer networks make the big turn to 2000? Or would they falter, forever stuck in 1999, thereby plunging the world into darkness and chaos?
Even in the midst of the Y2K scare, one thing kept me going. I knew that the sun would rise the next morning even if my computer wouldn’t turn on. I knew I would continue breathing. I knew that life would go on. It’s old news now, but life did indeed go on. Quite nicely in fact. It seems anticlimactic to say it now. But the anxiety was real back then.
In some ways, the special called session of the General Conference reminds me of the eve of Y2K. No matter what gets decided or what gets postponed, no matter what holds together or what falls apart, life and ministry will go on. Three things will remain true whether delegates pass the One Church Plan, the Connectional Conference Plan or the Traditionalist Plan. Or, heaven forbid, whether they pass no plan at all.
Here are the three things that will remain unchanged:
- God will still love us—all. And we will still—all–be called to love our neighbors and our enemies.
- We will still have disagreements on human sexuality and on biblical interpretation.
- We will still have people who love the church as it is and people who don’t. We will still have people who leave the church and people who stay.
Don’t get me wrong. I believe this gathering and its outcomes are important. They will determine how we will organize ourselves in years to come.
I’m personally in favor of the One Church Plan. It allows for regional and theological diversity. It provides a flexible structure that reflects the actual spectrum of commitments of the UMC. And it allows for people to follow their conscience, without judgment or retribution.
But we don’t have to wait until General Conference is over to decide who and how we are going to be. If Jesus is our leader, then love is still our foundation. We would do well to breathe deep, calm our anxieties, and move forward in our practice of love and acceptance.
Are you ready to move forward in your ministry? Join us for a free webinar: Does Your Church Dream Like Jesus? It will be Friday, March 1, 11am-Noon Mountain Time. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to register and reserve your space in the webinar.
Then, stay tuned. Next week, I’m going to share with you the seven abilities we need to cultivate no matter how General Conference turns out.