Letter from Bishop Huie
I am so looking forward to gathering with you in a few days at our annual conference to worship, learn and fellowship. Most importantly, we gather to remember why we are a people called Methodists. The past two weeks in Portland at the 2016 General Conference were at times frustrating, relentlessly tiring but also inspiring and hope-filled. I saw the determination of a deeply divided body, despite pressure toward division, strive toward unity. To that end, the delegates turned to their bishops and asked for leadership to guide our church in a path forward that would honor our differences and allow for co-existence in the body of Christ.
The Council of Bishops responded by recommending that the General Conference defer all pending votes on human sexuality. The issues involving human sexuality would be referred to a commission appointed by the Council of Bishops. The commission will be charged with reviewing the Book of Discipline and making recommendations to the 2020 General Conference. Their work could possibly include a 2-3 day gathering prior to the next General Conference.
I am more aware than ever of the challenges of living in a global church. Across United Methodism from Senegal to San Diego, from Botswana to Beaumont we are an incredibly diverse people. Our customs, our contexts, our cultures are vastly different.
One of the speakers at our upcoming Annual Conference, Tom Berlin, expressed our challenge beautifully in a Washington Post article saying, “In an ever-more-polarized society, the United Methodist Church this week has tried to model an approach to disagreement that the U.S. political system would do well to emulate. Despite deep differences over gay marriage and whether gay men and lesbians can be ordained as clergy, we are working hard at our once-every-four-years meeting to stay united as we search for solutions. Like Americans, we United Methodist have a common history to draw upon as we persevere together.”
That perseverance is my hope - that determination to unite in Jesus Christ. I agree with the Council of Bishops in their letter to the church this week, “Our differences do not keep us from being the body of Christ. They do not keep us from doing good in the world. They do not keep us from making a difference.“
This Sunday, United Methodists will unite and begin our 47th Texas Annual Conference to learn more about investing in the young, growing vibrant congregations and creating transformational leaders. Then we will go out to make disciples of Jesus Christ to transform the world as God is calling us to do.
While we acknowledge our differences and our disagreements, we accept our unity in Christ that is a gift from God.
Grace and Peace to you and please continue to pray for our beloved United Methodist Church.
Yours in Christ, Bishop Janice Riggle Huie