Every four years, Methodists from all around the globe gather for General Conference, where legislative and administrative decisions are made, affecting the entire church. May 10 marks the kickoff of 2016 General Conference in Portland.
At past General Conferences, efforts have been launched to remove unjust, discriminatory language from the United Methodist Book of Discipline, language that brands the “practice of homosexuality” as “incompatible with Christian teaching” and forbids same-gender blessings and unions. Our denominational body- the same denominational body that declares all persons are of sacred worth, or proclaims “open hearts, open minds, open doors” – includes language that demotes some of God’s beloved children of sacred worth to second-class standing in the church.
There is no time like the present for the United Methodist Church to rise to the occasion, welcoming all, and letting all truly mean all. In the wake of the 2015 Supreme Court decision granting marriage equality – and in the wake of continued discrimination- it is time for the church to stand up and proclaim the expansive, unconditional love of God for all people. If discrimination within the church stands in the way of the love of Christ, how can we proclaim the gospel, uninhibited, to the world?
Mid-May, after a much-anticipated wedding and the beginning of General Conference, we will launch our “Seal of Approval” sermon series – The Gospel According to Hairspray. We will explore the book of Galatians in the context of the movie musical Hairspray.
The overlap is really astounding.
In the book of Galatians, St. Paul, wanting to draw the circle wide, faces criticism from those who wanted a narrower criteria for belonging to the church community. In Hairspray, Tracy and a team of unconventional, inclusive, and spirited young people battle against a world divided by discrimination and prejudice.
Both stories point the way to a greater way where there is no division and where all can truly belong.
The Spirit seems to be moving in the church and in the lives of those who serve – moving us towards a new way of inclusion and welcome, in light of the love of God.
See you in church,