Back home after General Conference, Eric Park offers some candid thoughts on the high and low points of the gathering. He sees the rapid growth of the denomination around the world as nothing short of the work of the Holy Spirit, yet he's concerned with the anger evident on all levels of the church. He's concerned about some legislative actions, welcomes some changes, and has some thoughts on the impact of social media during the proceedings.
The General Conference wrestled with proposals to include a statement in the Book of Discipline that would specifically name and acknowled the division and disagreement that exist in the church over the issue of homosexuality. It was agaonizing, heartbreaking, fracturing, crippling and exhausting.
The daily hard work of dealing with legislation at General Conference is beginning to wear on the delegates. But some changes are being made, showing that those who believe the United Methodist Church is afraid of change are wrong, based on action taken this week.
Today the General Conference approved a change in the Book of Discipline that elminates "appointment security" for ordained elders in good standing. Eric Park is concerned that they've created a bigger theological problem than the practicial problem they were attempting to solve. But he says there is no need for pastors to panic.
The General Conference dealt with term-limits for bishops and the proposal for a set-aside bishop to coordinate the work of the Council of Bishops. Although both proposals received a majority of votes, one by one vote, a two-thirds majority was required.
At Sunday morning worship, Eric Park heard Bishop Will Willimon say that he doesn't know if any legislation will help revitalize the United Methodist Church. That is "the Good Shepherd's problem. He leads because we can't." He offered thanks that we have such a shepherd.
Inspired by morning devotions with the Western PA delegation, Eric Park writes about grace and what it means to him.
The General Conference joined in a meaningful, yet unsettling, worship event: An Act of Reprentance Toward Healing Relationships with Indigenous Peoples." This type of repentance is necessary because, by virtue of our shared humanity, are inseparably connected to the evils and atrocities committed by other human souls, even if we are chronologically or geographically distant from those souls.
Eric Park had a good day at General Conference. In his legislative section, where he was honored to preside along with a new friend from Zambia, he saw grace and patience. It felt like the way the church should be.
The Rev. Eric Park, chair of Western PA's delegation to the General Conference, reports on his first day, noting the impact of the multi-sensory and culturally diverse opening worship. Reflecting on bishop Larry Goodpastor's message, he wonders where in his life he has ignored Jesus' invitation to follow him so he could fiddle with some metaphorical nets.
Eric Park reports that there was some "good stuff" in the Episcopal and Laity addresses at General Conference on Wednesday. Later that day, he was elected vice chair of a Discipleship legislative section.