Among the most important but also the most controversial part of General Conference every four years is the conversation about social issues. United Methodists of good will are at different places around a plethora of social issues facing society today. The 2016 General Conference Guidebook outlines a number of these based on petitions that have been received. These include but are not limited to conversations around:
1) Human Sexuality (the ordination of gay and lesbian pastors and allowing the performing of same gender weddings),
2) Abortion (conversations about the UMC withdrawing their membership in the “Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice”?)
3) Religious Freedom (restricting it when it involves the denial of services, dignity, equal rights and equal protection)
4) Disability (requiring a person with a disability to sit on the conference committee that determines clergy medical leave)
5) Sustainable and Responsible Investments (divestment from companies that support efforts in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict)
6) Racism (end the celebration of Columbus Day and the re-adopting the UMW “Charter for Racial Justice”)
7) Immigration (welcoming migrant people to the US)
8) Creation Care/Environment (calling for an environmental study and re-adopting the resolution around “God’s Creation and the Church”)
9) Economic and Finance (addressing abusive tax structures and predatory lending)
Pray for these conversations that they are life-giving and respectful. Pray, keeping in mind the relationships we build as the church engages in this Holy Conferencing, that we will be stronger and more united and not divided by our disagreements.
Only God can work this through the power of the Holy Spirit in each of us.