This year’s conference featured a new process designed to publicly affirm the sacred worth of all people and provide equality in representation of ideas around a set of proposed resolutions. The resolutions detailed possible changes to the United Methodist Book of Discipline in the areas of human sexuality, ordination and performance of same-sex marriages in the church.
Delegates and leaders arrived in downtown Houston well prepared to fellowship, share new ideas and resources and conduct respectful Holy Conversations throughout their stay at the 2014 Annual Conference. District meetings throughout the conference served as an initial platform to hear all of the heartfelt convictions surrounding the resolutions submitted for a final vote on Tuesday, May 27th.
“It was our hope to provide a process that would allow for respectful, prayerful consideration of the views on the resolutions that were brought forward, although I understand that the issues of human sexuality can be divisive. For many there is no common ground, however, the United Methodist Church is a body known for its tradition of meeting and discussing. We are a church of conservatives and liberals. We are church of mission and service. A church that strives to be the hands and feet of Christ to take care of each other and live out God’s vision for our world,” says Bishop Janice Riggle Huie. She adds, “a recent poll asked a sample of United Methodists in the U.S. to indicate the most important issues facing the church. The top three responses were making disciples of Christ, youth involvement and members spiritual growth. (see poll results here) It is my prayer that we continue as a church united to face these issues and others “to transform the world.”
Most felt the careful and prayerful protocol followed to encourage Holy Conversation throughout the discussion process indeed set the tone for a reverent discussion and silent vote. Lay Leader Stephanie Griffin sums it up this way, “We have two simple laws that unite us: First - Love God and Second - Love Others. In the Wesleyan tradition we are a group of people who live by grace.” Adds Stephanie, “As we started the voting process concerning the four groups of resolutions, it was clear that there are areas where the body differs in their convictions. What I witnessed was an orderly, respectful, presentation of both views. I know that this discussion was painful for many of us but we started with what unites us: love, grace, and mercy. Everyone who spoke in support or against the resolutions was respectful of the clock while being mindful of all of our brothers and sisters in Christ. This was living proof that the Wesleyan roots of grace grow deep in the Texas Conference.”
Learn the exact vote tallies on each resolution here.
View videos of the proceedings