February 2019

No Matter What Happens in St. Louis

Permit me to rework a wise observation from another religion. The great Buddha once observed something like this: “before my great awakening under the Bodhi tree, I awoke from sleep, slurped my coffee, walked the dog, took a shower, got the kids off to school, and headed out for work. But after my great awakening under the Bodhi tree … I awoke from sleep, slurped my coffee, walked the dog, took a shower, got the kids off to school, and headed out for work.”

For several months now we have been studying the special session of General Conference to be held in St. Louis on February 23-26. Along with our conversations in Sunday school, church, and meetings we have been blasted with media and social media news and comment. We have talked to friends in the connection. We have stoked one another’s anxiety level as we indulged in worst case scenario thinking.

I personally hope the One Church Plan passes. It will allow conferences the choice to ordain clergy who are in committed monogamous homosexual relations or not to ordain them. It will offer local congregations the option of receiving such clergy as their pastor —or not. And it will allow pastors and congregations the choice of hosting the unions of such persons — or not. The One Church Plan offers the possibility of welcoming a constituency that has always been there but kept in the shadows. It also offers those who are adamantly opposed to any positive recognition of homosexuals the possibility of voicing and voting their conscience.

But whether One Church or one of the other plans (Traditional Revised, Connectional Conferences, Simple) passes, there will certainly be a period of shake-up following the General Conference in St. Louis. Even if there are no changes to The Book of Discipline the frustration level has reached a critical level. I anticipate expressions of anger and separation from the right and left.

I am helped at the connectional level by remembering that the Church is of God and transcends any one historical expression of it. The church goes on; the church of our memory often does not. And I am helped at the local level by the hint from my friend the Buddha. Before General Conference 2019 Calvary Church gathered to worship God, read the Bible together, fed the hungry and clothed the naked at Manna, laughed and cried together in Christ, and kept the saving station red L-E-D ten-foot cross lit high on the Market Street bell tower. But after General Conference 2019 Calvary Church will … gather to worship God, read the Bible together, feed the hungry and cloth the naked at Manna, laugh and cry together in Christ, and keep the saving station red L-E-D ten-foot cross lit high on the Market Street bell tower.

With you in the journey, Pastor Lew

 

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