The posse from the podcast arrived in St. Louis yesterday for the Special General Conference of the UMC, called for the purpose of finding a way forward through our impasse over the issue of sexuality. As I pulled up to the airport yesterday morning, NPR was a playing a story about the conference. The woman in front of me on the flight, a lawyer, was reading a Wall Street Journal story about the conference. The man across the aisle was playing an NCAA game too loud on his phone, and reading a Washington Post story about the conference.
About how United Methodists will or will not include in its ministry those gay Christians in its Body.
Oh, and the usual crowd of protesters from Westboro Baptist Church are here with their bullhorns and their “God Hates Fags” placards.
As I mention below, it’s hard for me to think about this issue from anything other than a personal perspective. I might not be a pastor were it not for the influence of my first theology professor in college, Dr. Eugene Rogers, a conservative Karl Barth scholar who also happened to be gay. I think too of my friend Andy, clearly called by God to ministry and went all the way through seminary before coming out and culling himself from the ordination process before a committee of strangers did it for him. I think too of the various congregations I’ve served, all of which had LGBTQ folks in them and about whom none of these local churches needed lobbyists and bureaucrats from the larger institution telling them how to do their ministry.
Off my soapbox.
The posse recorded our initial thoughts about being here, below, and then we sat down for whiskey with Bishop Will Willimon last night. Here’s Will’s wisdom in a nutshell: “There’s a difference between a problem (which has a solution) and a condition (which does not). Methodism doesn’t have a problem; it has a condition. Maybe the best way forward is for the larger church to allow local churches to continue to muddle their way through this issue.”
Here are those episodes: