And the Band Played On…
I recall how my brother read a book titled, “And the Band Played On,” when we were in our later years of elementary school. Some of you might have read the book. It was based on the story of the sinking of the Titanic. The author was critical of there not being enough life-belts on the ship, and of there not being enough life-boats, as well. Mostly, the book was critical of the crew and passengers who refused to heed the warnings to get off the Titanic. People were convinced the ship was unsinkable. Even ships nearby who intercepted the distress signal from the Titanic convinced themselves it had to be someone playing a joke, for they too believed the ship was unsinkable.
After I shared with the congregation of how I didn’t believe it was the time to panic in the wake of the media coverage of the impending splitting of the United Methodist Church, I was asked if I wasn’t merely choosing to bury my head in the sand. My reply now is the same as then. I don’t believe we are at the place of panic.
The proposal, which was announced to the media on January 3rd, is either the third or fourth of its kind. The group which announced it does not have the authority to split the denomination. The only group with that kind of power is the General Conference. You might recall how there was a Special General Conference in the Spring of 2019. That conference didn’t agree on much, and no significant change came as a result of their time together.
I can’t tell you the proposal announced on January 3rd won’t pass. I can’t tell you it will pass. I can tell you I’ve heard more willingness among those who are going to be attending General Conference to find a way to stop hurting one another over the issue of interpretation of scripture, specifically as it relates to human sexuality. Do I suspect something will change as a result of the next General Conference? Yes. Will it be what I want, or what you want? Sorry, my prognosticator isn’t that good.
I can tell you if things change, our church, the Utica United Methodist Church, will go on. We will continue to gather to worship our Lord. We will continue to gather to study the word of God. We will continue to meet the needs of our community as best as we can. Our friends here at church will still be our friends, and that bond, along with our faith, will hold us together.
What lies before our church is not the same as the sinking of the Titanic. We are not derelict in our duties to stay where we are. Our ship is not sinking beneath us. There may well be changes on the horizon, but we will manage them together, and we will continue to be the Body of Christ striving to live our faith in ways that impact our world.
I invite us all to commit to pray for the upcoming General Conference, and for all of those who will have a vote on these matters.
Fully Relying on God,