It is election year in the United Methodist Church. Throughout the early summer, annual conferences will be selecting their delegations to the General and Jurisdictional conferences scheduled for the summer of 2016.
2016 will be a big year for Methodism. Important decisions will be made impacting the future existence of the denomination. Chiefly among these debates will be whether United Methodists will allow same-sex marriages to be held (and officiated by United Methodist Clergy) in our congregations. The 2016 General Conference will provide the opportunity for the United Methodist church to publicly disavow the lie embodied in the phrase “love the sinner and hate sin”. Or we can continue a course which places a politically driven ideological agenda ahead of an inclusive, Christ-centered theology. For the former to occur, a different kind of person needs to be elected as delegate.
The Methodist Church has a history of electing delegates to conferences in much the same way the major political parties choose their nominees. Selection usually comes down to who you know; how long you’ve been around, are you or are you not a District Superintendent, and if it’s your “turn”. This excludes many qualified people and virtually guarantees a single type of delegate; one who has a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.
I don’t want to be a delegate. Upper middle class white men have been making decisions for churches and countries for far too long. I would like to see those elected to be more representative of the entirety of Methodism (from small rural churches, holding a diversity of beliefs, more minorities) and not sent because of the jobs they hold, the churches they pastor, if it is their turn, or how many times they’ve gone before.