I am at General Conference. Every four years United Methodists from across the globe gather to remember who they are. That’s the notion, anyway.
I am attending because the United Methodist Alliance for Transgender Inclusion made a scholarship available. I applied. I received a scholarship.
So here I am in Portland, Oregon. I don’t have voice on the floor. I don’t have much to do but be present to what is while I pray for what might be.
John Wesley spoke about the need for the people called Methodists to name the reality of differing opinions while holding a shared sense of grounding in the heart of Jesus.
The heart isn’t holding so well. For decades the United Methodist Church has wrangled about issues around full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender children of God. Some harmful language has been codified into policy. Barbed-wire proclamations regarding the seemliness of same gender love, the ordination of “self-avowed practicing” glbt clergy, and the prohibition given clergy around officiating at same gender marriages have cut deep into the souls of too many.
How long can hearts bleed?
Today I witnessed a public act that rang with historical power. A woman who has blessed the church and served the church for decades has been denied ordination because she will not deny her God-given orientation nor will she deny the love she shares with her wife. She was ordained in a non-traditional service held in the lobby where the conference is being held. Her non-traditional ordination hearkens back to the roots of Methodism in the US. Pastors were needed to go and teach and preach and bless. There was need and there were not enough ordained pastors to meet the need so Wesley stepped outside the bonds of church polity to meet the needs of the many hungering to hear the good news of Jesus Christ.
That hunger is real today.
What will happen at this General Conference is alive in the expansive, inclusive and broken-with-grief heart of Jesus.
So I am praying: Come, Jesus, Come. Show us how to love each other.