By Jessica Brodie
No matter what our church is going through in any given year, I always come away from Annual Conference floored by the massive ministry our collective church does in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Right now, the issue is sexuality, and debate is fierce about how The United Methodist Church should move forward given the vast theological differences on the matter. Just as fierce are the arguments on each side. It’s a huge issue, and not one to take lightly. Talk continues to circulate about schism if the church and its people cannot get past these differences, a split I deeply dread.
(I should note I dread it not because I fear what will happen for the Lord, as I know God holds all in His hands and will work all things for good according to His purpose, as He says in Romans 8:28. I dread it mostly because I fear how it would impact so many vital ministries and missions of the denomination in the short-term, ministries that are helping people live, grow and thrive despite poverty, oppression and persecution.)
I moved to South Carolina in the summer of 2010 to accept this position as editor of the Advocate. I consider it to be one of the biggest blessings of my life that I get the opportunity to lead this newspaper and share the stories of South Carolina United Methodists doing their part to be God’s hands and feet in so many beautiful ways.
Since 2010, I’ve seen many, many issues come to the fore at our annual conference gatherings: racial strife, immigration, equitable healthcare and districting, gun control, education reform—the list goes on.
Nine years later, none of these issues are resolved. There are no easy answers or remedies. But together, our church continues to work through them.
And yet I know: I’ve only been witness to these annual conferences for nine years. Many clergy and lay members of Annual Conference have been voting, working and praying over these and many more issues facing God’s people for six times that length of time—decades upon decades of service and witness.
No, the issue of human sexuality and the church is not resolved; I’m not sure it will be for a long, long time, if ever. But even in the tough situations, I take comfort knowing God’s good work is still being done by His people called Methodists. We collected hundreds of Native American elder baskets and thousands of pounds of food for Harvest Hope at Annual Conference. We ordained and commissioned new clergy. We funded new ministries and new churches. We took another step forward toward reconciliation and healing with Native American brothers and sisters.
As we shift into summer in the aftermath of Annual Conference, let’s all take a deep, full, Spirit-filled breath of gratitude that we all have the opportunity to be children of God—every one of us. God made each of us, and God loves each of us. No matter what.
Together, let’s push our differences aside and do God’s work.