Well That Just Happened
Except… well, it didn’t just happen.
Friends, I think it is fair to say at this point that Virginia Annual Conference 2019 was a remarkable success for this coalition we call Virginia Methodists for New Thing.
We elected our entire slate of delegates to both General Conference and Jurisdictional Conference.
We passed a motion encouraging the Bishop to delay any action on enacting consequences regarding officiating same gender weddings or on openly gay clergy until after General Conference 2020.
We passed three motions to petition General Conference to strike the incompatibility clauses from the Book of Discipline.
And I’m convinced we would have easily passed the other motions we were hoping to had we not run out of time.
We have developed a thriving network of faithful clergy and laity who have organized and are talking to one another in ways that I can’t ever remember happening in the VAUMC previously. The conversations and dreaming and strategizing and work that has begun is a thing of beauty. And as I’ve noted in my previous blog posts, this whirling blowing of the Spirit in both the thick and the thin places has renewed the Hope of so many of us. (Be sure to review Bishop Tracy Malone’s inspiring sermons on hope HERE - time stamp 3:00:00 and HERE - time stamp 1:02:38).
But I charge us to remember two things now that Annual Conference has come to a close.
One: The success of this week was not an accident, nor did it come easy. The Spirit moved, yes, but when the Spirit moves it urges us to act and work. And there were so many in this body that have exhausted themselves in their action and work. So please, do not take the success of our work for granted. Remember and give thanks for the saints that humbly and tirelessly worked to organize, interview potential delegates, create communication strategies, write motions and speeches, travel around the country, host hours upon hours of conference calls and chat conversations, spent money, gave up time away from their families, prayed endlessly, shed tears of frustration, stayed focused on the task before them and finally led us to the results we have seen in the past three days.
Praise God for these beloved children of God! May we all learn to respond to God’s urging with such diligence and with good work as they have!
Two: There is certainly much more work to be done, but first… Rest.
Friends, I urge each of you to find time in the next few days to take a Sabbath rest. Perhaps it’s one day, perhaps it’s a few. But we must all intentionally set aside time to simply be with God. Still your heart and mind. Turn off the noise. Get away from social media. Get away from media in general. Sleep. Pray. Meditate. Listen to music. Find refreshment for your soul. Read that book you have put off for a while. Cuddle with your children or significant other. Or perhaps just go be out in God’s creation and marvel at God’s wondrous love for us.
We need to rest. Burning out will do this movement no good. There will be time (soon!) for further action and strategizing and organizing and work. We have plans for future blog posts and communications from this team on ways to bring this good work back to your congregations and communities, so do be on the lookout for that. And if you would like to contribute to this effort, please reach out and let us know! We need your thoughts and writing and strategies. If you have ideas but need help with writing them in a compelling way, contact us and we will help.
But again, first we must take time to rest. So rest, friends.
I leave you with this ancient benediction to ponder as you re-enter your homes and lives away from Conference, and as you contemplate it, I pray you will find glorious rest and Peace in Christ Jesus.
The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.
S. A. King (he/him/his) is the son of a VAUMC pastor, the brother of a VAUMC pastor, and a self-styles “ImPastor” in the VAUMC at RISE Faith Community in Harrisonburg as the Minister of Formation and College Life. He is a recent graduate of Eastern Mennonite Seminary (MDiv ’18). He has struggles with the Spirit over his call to ministry since high school and has attempted to flee the UMC on multiple occasions, but continues to find himself circling back. It’s likely God has a reason for that. If you have stories to share or you want to connect, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org