By Jessica Brodie
This month, The United Methodist Church is gearing up for its quadrennial family reunion: General Conference.
Yes, “family reunion” was my takeaway from the 2012 General Conference, when this editor stood with a notepad, a smartphone and an open mind and watched about 1,000 of my Methodist brothers and sisters from the United States, the Philippines, Africa and beyond come together for business and worship. GC2012 was my very first time at the denominational event, and while I’d expected an international mob scene rife with debate and thin-lipped arguments over some of the hot-button issues, I was pleasantly surprised by the congenial, family-style atmosphere that greeted me instead.
Like any family reunion, there were the snarky comments, elbow jabs and posturings for position. But there was also plenty of love and what I saw to be an overriding “team UMC” spirit. People genuinely wanted to work together, to enjoy each other’s company and to serve the head of the family: Father God.
I won’t be a total “newbie” this time around, though I still feel woefully ignorant about so many of the issues our delegation will face. I’ve pored through the legislation and the Advanced Daily Christian Advocate. I’d read the remarkably well-written and well-researched articles by the experienced news staff at United Methodist News Service (gc2016.umc.org). Yet as I prepare to travel this month to Portland, Oregon, for the May 10-20 event, I must admit that, again, I truly have no idea what to expect and what will come of some of the most contentious issues (human sexuality, immigration and ordination among them).
But that’s where the Holy Spirit comes in, and rightfully so. We can’t pretend to have all the answers and be completely prepared when it comes to doing God’s business. And frankly, we shouldn’t have those answers. Pride is one of humanity’s biggest stumbling blocks, and it arises when we dare to believe we can make decisions about God’s church instead of being humble enough to let our egos slide away and let ourselves be God’s instruments.
I invite you to join me in prayer for our delegation and for delegations around the world, for those in United Methodist caucuses and other groups who will be imploring the body to pass or reject certain legislation, and for news writers like myself who will be trying our best to fairly and responsibly cover General Conference for the world.
Let’s God’s will be done in this and in all things.