Bishop Bickerton shares some thoughts on the subject of "guaranteed appointments" for clergy in the wake of the UMC Judicial Council ruling retaining the church's long-standing rules about "security of appointment". The decision came as no surprise to him, but he cautions against believing that everything can stay the same as it has always been.
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.
More was said than done at General Conference. But in the end, it doesn't take legislation for the United Methodist Church to be the church of Jesus Christ.
Presiding over the General Conference during discussion of human sexuality issues prompted Bishop Thomas Bickerton to pray for speakers and all those affected.
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 stories of the wonderful ways the United Methodist Church is in mission and ministry across the world counteract the naysayers predicting doom for the church.
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.
Bishop Bickerton shares his thoughts on some of the actions of the General Conference, specifically those relating to a set-aside bishop, term limits for bishops and the elimination of guaranteed appointments for elders.
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.
An Act of Repentance Toward Healing Relationships with Indigenous Peoples prompts some thoughts on white privilege.
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.
On the third day of General Conference, God led Bishop Bickerton to where the wounds are.
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.
In the midst of the business of General Conference, on World Malaria Day, Bishop Bickerton had the joy of telling the delegates how United Methodists have been part of the effort that has cut deaths from malaria in half over the last four years.