I was honored to be invited to have a seat at the table during a 2 day conversation on Holy Conferencing. As United Methodists, there are many things we hold in common: our love for God, the church, our mission to make disciples, our desire to be God's hands and feet in mission, our dream of grace and love. There are also a couple issues that continue to divide us.
As General Conference 2012 in Tampa approaches, many UM leaders are interested in how we can better hear each other instead of all sides putting up walls and refusing to stay in the conversation. Personally, it's difficult to stay in the conversation when I don't know the other person well. It's so easy to see the person in a negative way.
We talked about our preferred reality and the drivers and resisters in that equation. We acknowledged we weren't gathering with an intended answer to the issues. Instead our goal was how to help our denomination truly hear people on different sides of the issues without getting divisive.
I personally believe we haven't shown the world how to be peace-making and loving disciples very well. We can't even attempt to get along with each other. It's also about learning to live in the tension and accepting someone's view may be different from mine but I can still see them as a child of God.
We spent 2-3 hours listening to each other share our life stories. It was fascinating to hear leaders in our church share deep and powerful moments from their lives. After that kind of relationship building, I couldn't get too mad with them if they disagreed with me. There was a common ground established that enabled me to see Christ so evidently in their lives. It was refreshing.
My favorite outcome of this gathering was their support of a national gathering of young clergy this October! Some of you know lots of us have been trying to get this off the ground for a couple years now. The timing and funding never lined up until now. We're putting out a interest survey soon to get an idea of how many young clergy would make the trek to Kansas this fall. It'll probably be a couple days before Church of the Resurrection's Leadership Institute.
We don't have any grand ideas about what it'll look like yet. The design team will plan a flexible structure for the gathering. All we know is how important it is to get young clergy in a room together and see where God leads us. So excited!!
We'll need help getting the word out. Let me know if you want to help!
Adam Hamilton giving us the tour of Church of the Resurrection.