Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

2020 General Conference

Romans 14:1

Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.

img_0063-2Our denomination is facing some tough discussions and decisions right now. General Conference 2020 is taking place in May of this year. I will be watching the simulcast when time allows – even if on vacation. I have kept these proceedings in my prayers since it became clear the left would not obey the Book of Discipline. I hope you have as well. I knew this General Conference would be of great significance. Although the future of the Body of Christ is not in question – the future of the United Methodist Church stands in the balance. A number of proposals are coming forth to split the UMC.

A number of people have quoted today’s passage from both sides of the aisle it seems – on some of the current issues. I can see where both sides are coming from – and the bottom line is that if we are to remain a United Methodist Church – we will need to give some – on both sides of the aisle. In order to get along in any family – some give and take are needed.

Here is today’s passage in partial context. Romans 14:1-9 – Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand. One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.

I can hear folks on one side of the aisle now – some of the items we are discussing are not disputable – Scripture is clear. The funny thing is that the other side of the aisle makes the same claim – Scripture is clear -they say. Our view of Scripture is often different for sure. We will all be amazed when God reveals the truth about all that we have held to be absolute I would imagine.

As the denomination – the global church – leans more and more to one side of the aisle – the question becomes – how do we remain united? Is there a way forward? Is there a way to remain united and not split over our substantial differences? Like in Congress – when one side of the aisle has more power – they can play that power or they can work together with the other side to really get things done!  Which will we do in the UMC?

Our Bishop came out recently urging us to pray and fast – but also to support a proposal she was part of creating – which calls for a split of the church. The proposal she supports calls for the right – the traditional part of the church – to leave the denomination. The traditional side of the church has increasingly been the majority at General Conferences over the last 11 or so General Conferences. The trouble isn’t what gets approved by the General Conference. The issue is the left will not obey church law.

The debate – the discussion – continues. It may or may not be decided by May 15th this year – the end of General Conference. There have been discussions of a split. There have been pleas to stay together and work it out. Some have said it is past time for a divorce in the church. Some are working toward an amicable divorce. Whatever your opinion – pray for the two sides to continue to discuss and seek a place where we can work out our differences – if at all possible. Even if there is a split – we should pray that the two sides can work together.

At this time – whatever the global church decides at General Conference – it may or may not have immediate impact on First Church. Although we have people on both sides of the aisle at First Church on the current debate – I believe we are committed to working together to love everyone. We may not agree on the definitions of all sins and we may not agree on other topics – but we are family at First Church – and we are committed to living with and working through our differences – in Christ. As your pastor – I pledge to love everyone – without regard to my view or which side of the aisle I lean. There are theological discussions we can have – but pastorally – love overcomes our theological understandings. I can even discuss that sentence with you if you like.

I will be faithful to my vows to the United Methodist Church – as an ordained elder. I will be faithful to my position as the pastor of First Church – which includes people on both sides of the current aisle. My prayer is that the leaders and members of First Church can continue to love each other and serve Jesus! I pray that we will not give up on each other – even with our differences. There is more that unites us than divide us – IMHO.

Just something for us to think about today as we go on our way.

P.S. – Keep General Conference in your prayers.

January 16, 2020 - Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. I appreciated your writing today!

    Sent from my iPhone



    Comment by Thomas Ellis | January 16, 2020 | Reply

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