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#GC2019 Primer #6

We are now less than 10 days until the Special Session of the General Conference (aka #GC2019). 

Today, thanks to Pastor Danita’s connections, we will hear from a completely different voice than this series has highlighted thus far. 

Quick reminder of the basics: 

  • This is the sixth in a multi-week series to help us be informed about -- and prepared for -- the General Conference #GC2019 to be held February 23-26, 2019 in Saint Louis, MO.
  • Read previous entries in this series here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.
  • Those initial installments have (or at least link to) all the background information about how the United Methodist Church found itself in the position of needing both the Commission on a Way Forward and #GC2019.

 As #GC2019 looms large over our entire denomination, it is easy to get completely caught up in all the rhetoric and speculation — including and maybe especially, all the-sky-is-falling screaming — surrounding this General Conference. The Reverend Dr. B. Kevin Smalls (one of Pastor Danita’s friends) offers some much needed perspective as he reminds us not to forget the paramount role the local church plays in the mission of the United Methodist Church. Rev. Dr. Smalls also reminds us that arguments over language — both biblical and denominational — are not the only issues that divide or oppress us. 

You simply must go read the whole post. But here are a few highlights: 

“Our connectional system has given us a high sense of global communion, high bureaucracy and fascinating missional work with amazing servant leaders. But, I worry, that this in some cases has been an escape from the drudgery and the pull of the local church.” 

The local church is tough work. But, without it, truthfully, the United Methodist Church has no connection to the street or the real world. The ugly, poverty driven, crime laden, racial dividing, gentrifying, human trafficking, politicking, urban, rural, suburban street would be out of balance without a little church on the corner helping to remind its community that ‘God is in the neighborhood.’ Without the local church, there is absolutely no real ministry of the United Methodist Church. 

“Have we really come to this point? African Americans have struggled long and hard in a church in which they’ve often been forgotten, left behind or not taken seriously. This makes me sad. Even in this conversation we are currently having, no one has mentioned how the African American LGBTQIAPK community is still struggling to find a job, buy a house that they were denied not because of their sexual orientation, but by the color of their skin.” 

Let me also highly recommend a previous post by Dr. Smalls in which he wrote, 

“The real Way Forward is to find a means to peel back the years of impact of white domination in every realm of American society and culture, but most importantly, that which we’ve allowed to sneak in our church.  We have to revisit Biblical interpretation without the dominant race’s cultural lens, bias and norms.  We have to revisit equality without racist historical intrusion.  We have to reconsider policies that are soaked in ways that give disadvantage to underprivileged populations.”  Read that whole post here

Back to the most recent post: 

It is just my awareness that a denomination that is disconnected with its missional zeal and instead burdened with the weight of bigotry, racism, misogyny, and toxic religious streams that support exclusion and division is on a dangerous path. 

How does Dr. Smalls conclude? By reminding us to pray. 

“My prayer is that we return to pouring into local contexts and the pastors that serve them…May we stop our squabbling, get back into the neighborhood, focus on our deteriorating witnesses in communities and set the world on Fire. May we do this…before and after…the Special Session of General Conference 2019.” 

Amen to that.

Finally, here are two important links to use when #GC2019 begins:

Special Session Livestream: www.umc.org/live

For updates and news fro St. Louis visit: www.umnews.org

Posted by Pastor Dave Buerstetta with
Tags: blog, #gc2019

#GC2019 Primer #5

This is the fifth in a multi-week series to help us be informed about -- and prepared for -- the Special Session of the General Conference (aka #GC2019) to be held February 23-26, 2019 in Saint Louis, MO. 

Read previous entries in this series here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4. 

Those initial installments have (or at least link to) all the background information about how the United Methodist Church found itself in the position of needing the Commission on a Way Forward and #GC2019. 

Today, I’ll follow up (as promised in last week’s post) on a way in which our Northern Illinois Conference (NIC) is leading the denomination in preparing for #GC2019. Plus, I received my first question about this series! So I’ll respond to that as well. 

Speaking of questions…you too can submit a question about any of this and I will respond in a future post. Either put your question in a comment below or email your question to me directly. 

Here’s what a parishioner asked:

What can I (or we) do about #GC2019 as a lay member of a UMC congregation? How can we make our voices heard to encourage our denomination to move toward full inclusion of LGBTQ+ people?

 The first and best response is: Pray.

Pray for the twelve delegates from our Northern Illinois Conference.

Pray for all the delegates who will attend #GC2019.

Pray, in the words of our Bishop, the Rev. Dr. Sally Dyck, “May all hearts and minds be open to God’s Holy Spirit in this time of discernment.” Read Bishop Dyck’s full statement here.

Unlike with legislation before Congress, there is no mechanism for direct lobbying of the delegates. We cannot call them or write them as we would our Senators and Representatives. However, the NIC delegates to #GC2019 do have a Facebook page. You can “like” that to follow them there and post words of encouragement. 

What to know more about our NIC delegation to #GC2019? They published a FAQ statement. Read that here. 

As for the way in which our NIC is leading the denomination…we are doing so by taking a deep, deep dive into the potential impact the “Traditionalist” Plan would have on clergy and annual conference compensation and pensions. The NIC Conference Board of Pensions offers this analysis. 

They are the first to publish such a comprehensive look at the financial effect of the plan. Doing so became necessary when, as their post details, supporters of the “Traditionalist” Plan claimed their plan would “avoid any disruption or confusion with clergy benefits.” That claim is simply not true. Instead, the “Traditionalist” Plan could cost clergy six-figure retirement benefits. Whatever else that plan is, it is not financially neutral as was claimed. 

Just two more weeks until #GC2019! Keep reading and please keep praying for the UMC to find a just way forward.

Posted by Pastor Dave Buerstetta with

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