The United Methodist Church's Judicial Council meets today in Overland Park. They may have multiple things on their docket (and surely they do), but it is that old ubiquitous Sexuality Debate that has captured the imagination of newspaper reporters and activists. That is not meant to be a disparaging comment, at least not about reporters and activists. I was once an aspiring newspaper reporter and am currently an activist, though my schedule seems to render me more an "in-activist" these days.
I was also a baby Methodist--baptized at First Methodist in Ann Arbor, Michigan and charter toddler at Glacier Way Methodist in closer-to-our-house suburban Ann Arbor. My father graduated from SMU, and had he not died when I was still in preschool at Glacier Way, I'm sure I'd still be a Methodist.
Which I guess means I'd be fighting the UMC, instead of the ELCA, for the right to fulfill my call to ordained ministry. I'm thinking that would be okay. It might be fun to be a Methodist outlaw in town instead of a Lutheran one. I seem to find more kindred spirits in the ranks of the local Methodist clergy anyway.
But this post isn't actually supposed to be about me... It is meant to offer a word of prayer for the Judicial Council, for those who will be affected by whatever decisions the council makes, and for the United Methodist Church, which is a grand body struggling with the same institutional plurality sending most of our denominations into fits.
You can read the whole article describing the council's meeting and the Issues (cue background music by Danny Elfman) at stake, from Sunday's KC Star Faith section, which is now a half section on the back of another section and that's surely a blog post for another day. There is an article in today's paper, but it's not yet on the Star website. For those who prefer soundbites, here's the really pertinent paragraph, describing those decisions which may be revisited, depending on the results of the Judicial Council meeting:
In October, the council sided with a Virginia pastor who had denied immediate church membership to a sexually active gay man. The pastor’s bishop punished him when the pastor refused to accept the man into membership. At the same meeting, the council defrocked Beth Stroud, an openly lesbian minister.
And here's the prayer:
Loving God, in whom we live and breathe, bless our sisters and brothers on the United Methodist Church Judicial Council. Surround them with your love, and lay upon them your wisdom. Grant patience to those who await the results of this meeting, and clear voices of to those who will speak a word of justice to us all. May the wounds which these debates have caused be healed by the love we share as fellow members of the Body of Christ. Amen