By Jessica Brodie
From Jurisdictional Conference to the annual meeting of South Carolina’s United Women in Faith, it’s happening—a return to large in-person gatherings for the first time since the pandemic.
While most of us haven’t enjoyed this long-term absence of face-to-face time with colleagues and friends, we can probably agree the time apart has given us a bit of perspective in the pause. Perhaps we’re more grateful for little things like round-table chats where we can actually read each other’s body language or the feeling we get when the Holy Spirit comes over us while we lift our voices in collective song.
Perhaps it’s also given us time to think through some of the emotional dynamics of certain conflicts, whether that’s a local church matter, a family relationship issue or a denominational schism. I remember the dread I felt in early March 2020, knowing in two more months I’d be at General Conference in Minneapolis listening to heated clamor from all sides of the debate about human sexuality and where the church stands. (To be honest, the calls for “Split! Split!” reminded me a bit of the Queen of Heart’s “Off with her head!” from Alice in Wonderland.) While the forced pause has made some even firmer in their convictions, it’s been somewhat of a cooling-off period for others, allowing them a new perspective and even a chance for the Holy Spirit to work something new in their hearts.
Wherever you stand on the future of The United Methodist Church, I invite you to prayerfully consider what you have learned since March 2020, whether your perspective has changed and how you have grown as a child of God as you come together with the rest of God’s children all trying their best to do God’s work in the world.
God’s gift in the pandemic might not only be how we’ve learned to adapt and work together as a people, but also a helpful pause to calm our hearts, minds and souls as we prepare for this next phase as Methodists.