Last week Charles and I attended the Leadership Institute at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, the largest United Methodist Church in the US, near Kansas City. Wright’s Chapel has been partners with the Church of the Resurrection for several years. Each year they hold the Leadership Institute as a time of training for participants to learn more about what they do and to give us ideas of what we can do to grow the church. This years Leadership Institute was different though. As you may have heard the United Methodist Church has been having some serious discussions around marriage and ordination of LGBTQ persons. Earlier this year in a close vote the UMC decided to keep their traditional language saying pastors cannot perform weddings of same sex couples and LGBTQ people cannot be ordained ministers. Our church put out a inclusivity statement as a response to the vote that Charles wrote about recently on the blog that you can read by clicking here. Because of the vote in February many believe the UMC is heading towards a split. This year’s Leadership Institute was about what does the future of the UMC look like and how to lead in divided times. How do we love all, even those we disagree with?
In some ways, even though the conference was mainly on what is dividing the UMC, we in the US are divided in a lot of ways. We are divided not only around LGBTQ persons, but also with a lot of different issues. The question is can we learn to live together even though we disagree? Can we still stand up for what we believe is right even though some people think we are wrong? This is one of the things I love about Wright’s Chapel. I think we are proving that we can be a church that can serve God together even though there are things we disagree about. The reason we can do that is because there are some key things we do agree on. We agree that God wants us to love God and people. God also wants us to serve those in need in our community and around the world. We all agree on those things and work to do our best at serving God in those ways.
There is still more work we can be doing. We can learn to listen to those we disagree with. Getting to know them as people helps us to understand their side. Sometimes there is injustice in the world that we know God wants us to speak out against. Learning how to get along with those that we disagree with does not mean we don’t still fight for equality and justice, but we have to do it in a way that is loving.
I pray that the United Methodist Church can stay together and be a more inclusive church. I pray that we can focus on the things we agree about, loving God and loving people. I pray we continue to serve those in need. I also pray that we will continue to stand up against injustice in whatever form we find it. I know we are already doing that at Wright’s Chapel!