Stay Calm, Focus on Jesus, and Be the Church!
2020 began with a blitz of media stories about the possible division of the United Methodist Church. Amidst all the articles from various news sources, we might wonder if we missed something over the past month? While we celebrated Christ’s birth on Christmas and prepared to ring in the new decade, did we miss major news while preoccupied with the newborn King through Epiphany? While no one can doubt the abundance of dramatic new stories, let me reassure our congregation that nothing has changed in the Book of Discipline. So, where do the stories come from?
The stories are generated by groups, coalitions, and constituencies that advocate for change and who are preparing proposals for consideration at the General Conference meet this May in Minnesota. These proposals are from Methodists, but they do not speak for the entire denomination. Only the General Conference can make decisions and change the Book of Discipline.
In light of all this speculation, what do we do? First, STAY CALM. Methodist people are very “methodical.” There will be meetings with all those potentially impacted by possible changes. This list includes the local church, district, and the Annual Conference. If local churches are inclined to vote to move another direction in response to any potential divisions, there will be a process and time for this to happen. Any changes from the May Quadrennial General Conference will not take effect until 2021. If you want current news leading up to General Conference, follow the UMC websites www.umc.org and www.awfumc.org. You can also read the article from Bishop Graves in this Beacon about this subject.
In addition to staying calm, we must FOCUS ON JESUS. We need to take the next step in our discipleship journey and be the hands and feet of Jesus in a world that desperately needs to know him as Lord and Savior. There has never been a more important time to keep our focus on the GOOD NEWS of JESUS! Our church is at its best when we are people of good news! There is so much division, hatred, and ill will in our world. God forbid we think those things are normal for the church! We need to counter with good news! Now is the time to FOCUS ON JESUS, GOOD NEWS, HOPE, and LOVE.
What else can we do? In such a time of higher visibility, we have a tremendous opportunity to BE THE CHURCH! Historically, divisive times have positively impacted the church. Could 2020 be the year that revival sweeps across the Church and the Holy Spirit lead it to greater unity? During these times, let us STAY CALM, FOCUS ON JESUS and BE THE CHURCH.