BY PATRICK SCRIVEN
Reading through the news this week, I was again struck with the notion that we are truly living in some liminal space—those moments between ‘what was’ and ‘what is to be’—for The United Methodist Church. I imagine that this is what our bishop was anticipating, in part, when she encouraged us to look at this time as a CrossOver Year.
The uncertainty of liminal moments can be paralyzing especially for an organization like ours, one that is so reliant on the passion and commitment of its members. No one is sure exactly where to invest their time, energy, and even their treasure as we all hedge our bets a little bit.
Over the next couple of days, we’ll have one more piece of the proverbial puzzle placed in the form of the Judicial Council’s review of the Traditional Plan, punitive legislation which passed narrowly at the 2019 General Conference. Even the best result—which I’ll resist the temptation to define—is unlikely to provide clarity and peace of mind to a deeply divided church. Meetings in the months ahead, including our Annual Conference Session, may add more pieces but we’ll very likely be living with significant ambiguity for at least the next year.
In her invitation to the CrossOver Year study last Fall, Bishop Stanovsky wrote:
“No matter what happens at the General Conference, God needs us to get involved in the needs of the people we serve in our neighborhoods and around the world. NOW. We don’t have to wait passively for the General Conference to decide. We don’t have to remain stuck. We can choose life right now.”
If you are feeling stuck right now, I hope you’ll consider again the Bishop’s invitation. While there are some who are called to work toward solving our United Methodist quagmire, most of us would be better served turning our energy outward. Get to know your neighbors better. Take a couple of days, alone or with a team, to help to build a house in the Okanogan. Collect change and dollars for the Jamaa Letu Orphanages. Encourage a young person to attend CONVO or Annual Conference. Get trained as an ERT so you can be God’s hands and feet when disaster strikes.
So, pay attention and pray for The United Methodist Church, but, please, don’t wait for it to do what God has put before you. The world is still our parish and there is much good that we can still do, even as we wait.
Patrick Scriven serves as Director of Communications and Young People’s Ministries for the Pacific Northwest Conference of The United Methodist Church.