A Meeting, About A Meeting, About Going Forward: Mansplaining the Way Forward

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This weekend, our district is gathering to hear our General Conference delegates explain the three options being offered by the Commission on the Way Forward.  I need to make a confession: I’d rather be getting a root canal.  This doesn’t sound like fun.  Don’t get me wrong, United Methodism needs to have this conversation.  I want to get the show on the road.  We need to finish, vote, do whatever, break up, and move on with our lives.  This interminable waiting isn’t healthy for anyone.

It seems all we ever do is talk about what we’re going to do if we get a chance to do something other than more talking.  Frankly, I’m bored of talking and so are the people in my church.  They too want to get on with their religious lives.  The denomination is holding them hostage and no one has the time nor the inclination (except for a few fanatics) to develop the Stockholm syndrome.  Most of the folks I encounter just want to go home, home to a church not ripped apart by culture wars they didn’t start and given the freedom to love whomever is in their midst.

Another reason I’d prefer not to give up a Saturday morning to a command appearance is this:  I have the ability to read.  No doubt, you’ve heard the term “manspslaining”.  Neither I nor my colleagues need to “mansplained” about the three options for Methodism that we can easily read online.  The Commission on the Way Forward is blessed with a propaganda outlay rivaling the operating budgets of most small cities in North Carolina.   It appears to be a waste of valuable resources and time.

Through their videos, press releases, website, articles, and the countless re-sharing of their materials down to the district level; I believe their message is getting through.  If you’re not hearing, learning, and reading this important information it’s because of apathy.  You simply don’t care.  Everyone understands what is at stake.  I’m sure there are many people who’d prefer to keep their head in the sand and not talk about the impending collapse of United Methodism.  Some plan pancake suppers and casually  forget to explain what’s coming down the road.  This, however, doesn’t make the future any less real.  Those leaders are doing their congregations a disservice.  Forcing everyone to listen to the delegates elected three years ago,  those who kicked the can down the road, would be funny if vocations, families, churches, and lives weren’t on the line.  Reading PowerPoint to each other while we whisper revolution from our various moral high grounds.  They say that’s what it (the meeting) won’t (or shouldn’t) be.  Stern instructions will be given in the beginning, “We’re here to listen to the plans, not re-litigate the issue.”  You and I both know that’s what it will become.

I realize meetings like this are an effort to put everyone on the same page regarding our future.  The thing is, we’ll never be on the same page.  There’s no such thing as the same hymn sheet.  That’s part of the problem.  Even in trying to find a way to close the door and shut off the lights, we still want to make everyone come to meetings, talk a little more, and conform to a method.  Is that, in and of itself, and indication that we’ve already failed?

Richard Bryant

Ocracoke UMC

Beacon District

NC Conference

Planet Earth

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