My denomination’s World Conference begins officially this Saturday. It’s held every three years and is a major worship and legislative gathering–kind of like a big family reunion.
Some years the discussions go pretty smoothly. Some disagreements, sure…but nothing major.
Other years, though, it’s been far more challenging–when we’ve had to deal with issues that are so significant theologically that there doesn’t appear to be any room for compromise. The last one that was like that was back in 1984, when we approved a document that allowed us to begin ordaining women to ministerial offices. That split the church–and it took us many years to recover.
This year could be as significant as then. There are resolutions that have come from many places where we have members, dealing with issues of sexuality–specifically homosexuality and its compatibility with ministerial responsibilities…and whether our ministers can have the freedom to share in the sacrament of marriage for same-sex couples in those areas where it is legal.
There are strong feelings on both sides–as there are in the larger world. And I know this issue also has the capability to split our church.
But I hope that doesn’t happen. I hope and pray that we can find ways to truly hear each other–to hear stories…concerns…pains…fears. I hope and pray that we can be willing to listen for God’s voice in the midst of all this…that we can have wisdom–and courage–to follow where we sense God calling us.
Reasoning together doesn’t happen if we’re not willing to be vulnerable with each other. But when–IF–we are willing to take that risk, then we give God the opportunity to help us find new pathways.
May it be so this week.