Monday, April 28, 2008

General Conference- April 27

Sunday at General Conference a couple of important issues were discussed.

The body voted to create a task force to examine the issue of global climate change and to prepare recommendations on how local churches can reduce their negative impact on the environment. I hope that in four years when these recommendations are presented that local churches will take them seriously. Even if the problem is not as bad as Al Gore and others say it is, it's clear that humans do have a negative impact on our climate, and these will help us be better stewards of God's creation.

Bishop Minerva Carcano of the Desert Southwest Conference (Phoenix Area) gave a sermon at one of the worship services in which she reminded us that the call of the church to serve the poor and marginalized included undocumented workers here in the United States (others prefer the more pejorative term "illegal immigrants").  We may disagree on how the current immigration problem needs to be handled, but I hope we can all agree that those that are here illegally are still human beings and deserve to have enough food to eat, shelter, and adequate medical care. Hopefully we can see those as human rights and not just privileges enjoyed by citizens of this country.

Finally, a number of prominent figures from the Civil Rights Movement, including James Lawson (who is an absolute legend at Vanderbilt Divinity School), spoke out on the issue of full inclusion in the United Methodist Church. Currently people whose sexual orientation (something we do not choose) is not hetero are prohibited from serving as clergy, and in many churches are even denied membership. Lawson and other leaders said that this practice constituted heterosexism and was as grave a sin as the racist practices that used to be legal. The rally marked the fortieth anniversary of the dissolution of the Central Jurisdiction, which kept black and white churches and clergy separate from one another regardless of geographic proximity.

I hope that the fact that people are speaking out on these important issues fosters a healthy dialogue amongst the delegates instead of causing them to retreat into their partisan camps to only trade soundbites with one another. We've already seen some evidence of the latter with the free cell phone incident. Let's hope that's the last of it and that we can all speak openly and honestly with one another.

1 comment:

Jason Sansbury said...

To clarify, people are not able to serve as UMC pastors is they are practicing homosexuals. If they are promoting chastity in their lives, there is no prohibition I know of them serving. Likewise, we ask for all single pastors to practice celibacy as well.