PNW Conference Lay Leaders reflect on a difficult General Conference

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A word from Nancy Tam Davis

I’m in a prayerful frame of mind as I let the images and words from last week’s special session of General Conference play through my mind. I am surprised, not by the difficulty of the gathering over differences, not by the sometimes elegant, sometimes muddled but always heartfelt statements, not by the detailed structure of amendments, questions of clarification or the careful process of taking and tallying of votes. As pedantic as Robert’s Rules of Order are, they are the adopted process by which our church makes decisions.

What surprises me is the depth of emotions I am feeling over the last two days. Prayer is needed to recenter my soul. I am in mourning and celebration, betrayal and encouragement, feeling bound and freed, all at the same time. The core of my faith is not shaken. I may not be as biblically fluent as many but to me “all means all” and “love is the greatest commandment.” Those bedrock beliefs are not challenged. I also harbor enough cynicism to not be surprised at how hurtful people can be to one another. So what’s this about?

The Church, the large world-wide system of The United Methodist Church, appears broken and is certainly heartbroken. Remember, a majority vote is only that, and it was not an overwhelming vote. There are more steps ahead including a constitutionality review. What the vote showed most clearly was our brokenness.

And that’s where we are now. While bishops and delegates from around the world weighed in on the decisions, it is us, the laity who will fill the pews on Sunday. We will walk into our sanctuaries a little different than a week ago. Not because we have changed, but our church has. It is up to us to remember that “all means all” regardless of where we are on the vote. We are called to greet one another with love and understanding. There are no winners here. in fact, we have all lost something. Division does that. Let’s step into healing as Jesus taught us. We are called.

Blessings to ALL of you.
Nancy Tam Davis
Conference Lay Leader, Pacific Northwest


A word from Angelina Goldwell

This week has been one of deep pain. As Nancy said, for many of us, our experience in church will feel different this Sunday morning. Lamentation is a holy and appropriate response to what our eyes have witnessed at General Conference.

Angelina Goldwell

And yet, like many of us in the PNW, I am reminded that for many of those in my circle of friends and colleagues this has just been another week. They are not Methodist, they are not Christian, and they don’t know what’s gone on or they only know it through secular media outlets. In my newsfeed, I saw the story of General Conference lifted by LGBTQIA+ individuals who are not Methodists framed with upset, pain and a sense that our denomination is yet another place they are not welcome. What gave me hope were the ones commenting saying, “I hear you. I see you. You’d be welcome and embraced at my local church.

Chances are this Sunday there will be people in your pews who don’t know what has happened. They may be fellow members of your congregation; they may be first-time visitors. And just maybe, there will be folks who read the news stories and the comments who are coming to see if our churches really are welcoming to all people. And there will be our church friends and acquaintances who have been impacted by this week in ways we may not know.

For all these folks this Sunday is our moment to show what it means to follow Jesus. This is our opportunity to practice grace and love, acceptance and hospitality. We are blessed to be a blessing and I hope we seize the opportunity this Sunday and all the other days of the week.

Angelina Goldwell
Associate Conference Lay Leader, Pacific Northwest

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