Reflections on Annual Conference

Reflections on Annual Conference

Lee McClure and I represented Clinton First United Methodist church at the Iowa Annual Conference Session in Des Moines this last weekend. As usual it was a great time to renew friendships with both Lay and Clergypersons. Thanks to Harold and Betty Voorhees, former Clinton First members who opened their home again this year and offered outstanding hospitality. I got to play bass in the Band again this year (twice) and was in charge of displays again (I think this was my twentieth year). Preaching by visiting bishops, Lowery, Dyck and our own Julius Calvin Trimble was outstanding. The two major areas of focus for me were 1) the debate over the new budget focus and 2) a resolution concerning accountability and defying the Discipline. For the first area, the Conference found that it is hard to change course and refocus our resources to better achieve our mission of making disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. We know we need to change our ways but we ended up voting not too because it is painful. There were some questions about the process but change is hard. The second item was a resolution that was designed to let pastors not abide by the Discipline if they felt strongly that they didn't agree with our rules of structure and polity AND they wanted immunity from the appropriate chargeable offenses. I am adamantly opposed to this resolution that got tabled until next year along with four others because we ran out of time. It is designed to let pastors who want to perform weddings for and ordain Gay, Lesbian, Trans-gender or Bisexual persons as pastors, to do so without disciplinary repercussion, even though our United Methodist Discipline does not allow for these to be done. If this were passed, any pastor could do anything he or she wanted on ANY issue and not fear disciplinary action by the bishop. We would, in effect, cease to exist as the United Methodist Church. This resolution is an end-run around the way we have ordered ourselves for ministry. It is against our Discipline that we have promised to live by and not to 'mend'. It is not an understandable, updating of out-dated, no-longer-applicable rules but a radical change in who we understand ourselves to be as a denomination. I trust we will defeat this resolution when it comes up next year. Over all, it was a good Conference and the United Methodist Church is seeking a season of Resurrection and Revival in our Life as part of the Body of Christ in the world.                   

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