by Hilary Marchbanks
Six of us from Saint John’s have spent the past several days at the United Methodist called General Conference in St. Louis, participating in prayer and worship, watching our general conference delegates decide the church’s current polity concerning LGBT+ persons.
After many emotionally-charged decisions, the legislative plan “The Traditional Plan” was passed 53% to 47%. The general conference adjourned without a ruling from the judicial council nor an adopted implementation plan. For those hoping for a more affirming result, this was disappointing news. Yet we must also recognize that there are decisions not yet made and constitutionality not yet decided.
Throughout the sessions, a stained-glass window of bread and cup was displayed in the center, reminding us how Christ’s table at United Methodist Churches is open to all. Many delegate speeches were nourishing in this open, encouraging, and hopeful way, even as the results did not feel representative of this fact. The results felt closed even though we are in a society which deeply needs the witness of God in Christ.
Rev. Brian Adkins, a member of Commission on the Way Forward, shared, “LGBTQ people in the United Methodist Churches around the world; you are beloved of God. No matter what happens in this room or anywhere else, there is a place for you at God’s table, and no one can take it away from you!”
I find myself hoping for what he said and more! I long for a church which not only allows all, but works toward celebration of all. Hear my prayer, O God.
Gay and lesbian members of Saint John’s, thank you for your courage. I love you and am learning from you every day. Our discriminatory polity is our larger church’s inadequacy, it is not your lacking. God is with you even when it feels general conference is not. Thank you for your witness among us. I see your gifts. We are better with you, even as the larger church has not found a way to be better to you. I am sorry for the patience you have been asked to endure.
Sunday, Saint John’s will gather for worship at 9 and 11 am, led by our youth. I will gather with you at the table, making room for all. Bring your burdens, your questions, your hopes, and your concerns. Bring them to the table and be fed. In your presence and at Christ’s table, I know I will be.