With growing rumors of schism, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to stay positive about what is happening during General Conference. On Monday night, rumors of a separation plan organized by the Council of Bishops were running rampant and Bishop Ough, as president of the council, had to quell these rumors in an address this morning. He shared of the hearts breaking over our apparent inability to live together as one denomination.
However, today we also celebrated our ecumenical relations with our denominations across the world.
After three days of discussing rules, it looked like we wouldn’t succeed in doing much of anything.
But today we approved the creation of a new hymnal, and we came more fully into our global nature by approving translation of our working documents into French, Portuguese, and Swahili, and a bishop presided in French during the afternoon session.
This week, we celebrated the 25th anniversary of Africa University. Later this week, we will celebrate the more than 4.6 million lives positively impacted by Imagine No Malaria, and we will embark on a new challenge to save more than 1 million children over the next four years. The disciples made through our unity are undoubtedly transforming the world.
These final three days will be trying. Yet I pray that our denomination will survive. I pray for this not because I enjoy having these tough interactions every four years. Not because I enjoy seeing the pain that is experienced by some of our polity.
I pray for this because of all the good we can do. Because when we meet, we have to have simultaneous translation into nine languages to accommodate our millions of members from around the world. Because when decided to Imagine No Malaria, we cut the death rate in half in just eight years. Because when our annual conference set a goal to pack 1 million meals through Feed my Starving Children, we nearly tripled it. I pray for our denomination because we are a denomination of doers.
Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike?
I most certainly think we can and do.
Walker Brault is a lay alternate delegate to General Conference. He is a member of Wesley United Methodist Church in Winona and a student at Hamline University in St. Paul.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church