I’ve been traveling and ministering in United Methodist Churches for 45 years now. In recent years, it’s been incredibly frustrating that the people entrusted to lead the denomination have pursued a liberal, progressive agenda, consistently ignoring what the people in the pews expect them to do. Indeed, most of the people I worship with each week have no idea of the things the Church is saying and doing on their behalf, and they would be horrified if they did. Every four years, the UM Church holds a General Conference where these battles are fought anew. I went to the Conference in Portland this year, expectant that the denomination would begin to more accurately reflect Biblical truth in all areas of leadership.
“The Showdown in Portland”
The dust is settling from what became quite a showdown. This General Conference certainly lived up to all the pre-meeting hype! The conservatives hoped to maintain the stance on human sexuality that has stood fast now for over four decades, despite regular and forceful attempts to change it. In recent years there have been many very public efforts to disobey the Book of Discipline, so they also hoped to tighten up the language to provide for a new level of accountability. The progressives came with the agenda of finally overturning that language and “moving the denomination into the 21st century,” as they put it. They were emboldened by the recent shift in public opinion engendered by the actions of the Supreme Court. Surely, this would be their year!