Wednesday, April 25, 2012
No More Boxes!: Conference Day 2
Many amazing and inspiring things have happened so far on this second day of conferencing. I was able to hear opening addresses, inspiring young adult speeches during lunch, and even attended a peaceful conferencing in the General Administrating legislative committee. God truly is among us as we gather for the UMC General Conference; I just hope all of our hearts are open to hear his true call.
New England’s first elected lay delegate graciously let me sit in her seat for this morning’s opening plenary session. From this chair on the floor I was able to hear New England’s own Bishop Peter Weaver give the episcopal address. Let me tell you, this man can preach! Throughout his whole message, alleluias, amens, and tweets were flying from the congregation. His prophetic message was about a “resurrection revolution” and how we as United Methodists and as true Disciples of Christ are called to act missionally in this world. Bishop Weaver stressed that “our mission is not to make more members to help us save the church, but more disciples to help in God’s work of saving the world.” He also believes that “if God can bring to life the crucified Christ, [then] surely God can bring to life a calcified church;” truly inspiring words. As Bishop continued with his inspiring sermon, he also brought up how the UMC Discipline should be a tool of liberation, not regulation or oppression. I pray that everyone sitting in that room was not only listening, but also planning to act on this inspiring prophetic message.
The Holy Spirit in the room continued to move as we heard the laity address shared by three people: Betty Spiwe Katiyo from Zimbabwe, Steven Furr from the US, and Amory Peck also from the US. Each of these persons spoke about transformation, how they have experienced it in their own lives and their vision for the UMC. One of Katiyo’s biggest moments was when she spoke about how the “laity is not intended to be passive consumers of religion…We are called to action.” Furr spoke about his own personal transformation (losing weight) and challenged us to be a living sermon instead of just preaching one. Finally, Peck coined the phrase “It it’s to be, it’s up to me” in order to send a missional message to the UMC.
Now, if we weren’t already inspired, the young people’s address brought enthusiasm and excitement as we heard from Krin Ali from the US and Joy Eva Algodon-Bohol from the Philippines (via live Skype). They both stressed the importance of rejuvenating the church by involving young people in leadership positions. Young people at GC2012 have now adopted the phrase “Charged, Rooted, United” as a battle cry to get young people involved! Ali said “everything you do means nothing if it’s not from the heart!” The UMC needs to wake up and realize that Jesus’ message is about love…are we truly opening our hearts, minds, and doors to everyone? Young people are inspired, feeling empowered, and yet is there room for us in the UMC? One very thought-provoking “tweet” that blasted through twitter during the young people’s address said “Jesus died at 33. Just sayin’ UMC, young people can lead. Don’t just include them but let them lead.” If Jesus was among us today as a member of the UMC at 25 years old, even 30 years old…would we let him lead or would we be not as welcoming because he is a young person?
I will conclude this blog post with one final message from a young person (Tyler Sit) who spoke at MFSA/RMN’s speaker series this afternoon: “young adults do not like being put in boxes!” It’s time to break down the walls of our church boxes, step out in the community, and truly become a connectional church.
Want to get more involved on the action of GC2012? Go to umc.org, follow me on Twitter (@anniemac24), and/or search for #gc2012 on Twitter.