June 2nd, 2019

how long

It's that time of year again

The Indiana Annual Conference meets next week. Normally, that's not a big deal. In the last few years, our conference has made great progress in achieving irrelevance; we are hardly to be mistaken for a serious ministry organization. The clergy, of course, particularly those coming into the profession, need a credentialing agency, and we function as that. But fewer people seem to attend each year.

Until this year. Downtown Indy hotels are booked solid. All the chickens are coming home to roost: retired clergy who rarely attend; lay members from small congregations that have blown off the big gathering for years. It's an election year for General and Jurisdictional Conference delegates. And, well, GC19 happened.

A lot of progressive clergy are really angry. They are making a push to overturn the actions of General Conference. And a lot of traditionalist laity have just found out what their beloved clergy actually believe, and they are furious. I'm not looking forward to the drama. It promises to be a wearying, draining experience.

It'll take a while -- maybe a couple of years -- to clarify the situation, but I'm already looking past it. At some point, we either separate amicably or somebody just up and leaves. We can't go on this way.

I look back to my entry into The United Methodist Church. We were newlyweds, trying to figure out the church thing. My parents had been given a copy of our doctrinal standards from The BOD as part of a new member orientation class they were taking at their church. I read the Articles of Religion for the first time and thought, "I'd like to belong to a church that believes that." We noted that there was a UM church just a couple blocks away from our first apartment. One Sunday, we went there and crashed the doors cold. Deanne was baptized and I was confirmed in that church. It's the only local church I've ever been a member of (my membership was transferred to the Conference upon my ordination).

That was 45 years ago. I'd still like to belong to a church that believes the Articles of Religion, if I could just find one. And I'm still looking for a church in which I can fulfill my ordination promises not only to teach that faith, but to maintain our polity and to "not mend our rules, but keep them." I've changed in a lot of ways since I started out on this journey, but my original goals are as clear as ever. I'm tired of the conflict, but even more, I'm tired of our wasting everybody's time.

One more Annual Conference. Yet another General Conference. And then: a new quadrennium starts. But if that means just more of the same ol', same ol', then I think that new quadrennium will start without my further involvement. I'm looking for somewhere to live out my vows and do ministry. Trying to do that in an org where vows are not for keeping and which values this incompetently-run medicine show over the doing of ministry is a dead-bang loser. Leave the dead to bury their dead; I want to follow Jesus.