by David McAllister-Wilson, President of Wesley Theological Seminary
As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.Joshua 24:15
I have returned from the General Conference of The United Methodist Church in St. Louis on the Mississippi River. It may seem from news reports the issue was a call to full inclusion of all gender identities and sexual orientations. But it wasn’t even that. It was a debate about whether we can simply accommodate our differing views in one house with many rooms. Wouldn’t that have been a powerful witness to the world and this country if we had succeeded?
What can be said? This was a conference and this is a time when neither prophetic nor pastoral words have any effect. So, what do I do? My first reaction on Tuesday night was to surrender my credentials and move to separate Wesley Theological Seminary from the denomination. But then, I got a text from some of our students at the conference.
Chelsea Spyres and Ellie Crain were part of the writing and editing team of young people to put together a petition so the will of young people could be heard. And they wanted to use the our seminary’s servers to distribute it.
The petition, linked here, said that though young United Methodists are very different from one another, and don’t all agree, they are committed to work together for the future of the church. In 11 hours, they got 15,500 signatures of the rising generation in The United Methodist Church. The power of that action will carry beyond St. Louis.
They led me to feel less like Job or Jeremiah and more like Joshua, standing on the banks of another river. So, as for Wesley and our community, we will support and protect our LGBTQ students. And we will continue to be a model for what a communion in diversity can look like.
All is not lost. More delegates voted for a model of inclusion than ever before, and a strong majority of U.S. delegates endorsed this vision. The plan that was passed is deeply flawed and may collapse under the weight of its own oppressive provisions. By our example and our actions, Wesley will lead this denomination to a new future.