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