May 4th, 2008

how long

Don't Panic

The United Methodist General Conference seems to have held its quadrennial meeting without making more than a ripple in the news. That could be good, since we usually only make news when we do something scandalous.

I'm trying to find out what-all actually got decided. So far, I'd say it's like Earth as described in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: MOSTLY HARMLESS. So maybe we should put the words Don't Panic in big, green, friendly letters on our church signs.

What I can gather about issues goes like this. On all attempts to normalize homosexual practice, the answer was a polite but firm No. On the other hand, conservatives lost their majority on the Judicial Council, so there may be some really screwy rulings over the next four years which could give the radicals some victories despite the plain mandates of General Conference and the Book of Discipline.

The attempt to create a whole new international structure for the Church seems to have been shelved for this quadrennium, though some parts of the plan were approved. This may be moot for a while. The good news is that our African membership is now 30% of the whole, and will be something like 40% in four years. So as long as the Africans stay faithful, the whole UMC may go counter to the trends in mainline Protestant Christianity. (Yay!)

We set up a committee to create a new hymnal (big whoop). We approved full communion with the ELCA (you mean we hadn't already?). General Conference refused to approve a petition that would have removed pastoral discretion in receiving new members (yay!).

All in all, it doesn't sound too bad. At least we didn't all go over a cliff. So now I can go back to work for another quadrennium. And, uh, thanks, Lord, for listening.