I am humbled by the response I received to my post on General Conference last week. Thank you for taking the time to read my perspective and experience at General Conference, and for dialoging with me via e-mails, texts and messages this past week. I've benefited from our grace-filled conversations, a holy conferencing, you might call it.
Of course, I am just one voice out of many. Some of my dear friends reminded me that while they enjoyed my writing, it missed key elements - namely that we aren't simply talking about an issue, but people.
I appreciate their wisdom and for acknowledging what I too would perceive to be the biggest weakness in what I shared. We aren't talking about "agreeing to disagree" or "loving in disagreement" over an issue, such as the carpet in the sanctuary or the doctrine of the Trinity, but we are talking about people.
Certainly I shared from my privileged position as a white male, married and heterosexual. Those were my travel companions as well - we were limited in our diversity.
I'll note too I was trying to be pastorally sensitive, particularly in the context of my church setting where we're pretty split on this. I was hoping to build a foundation to start the dialogue in the midst of our tense times.
To continue the dialogue and to acknowledge that other voices are just as important as mine, I've shared some links below to some folks who I have gathered around my "table". In no way is this list exhaustive. I've not scoured the depths of social media to find every perspective and voice. These are simply a representation of some voices I've found helpful, on both sides, that have helped me listen and understand better.
I hope they help you too.
I'd love for you to share with me other perspectives. Send them my way!
Jeremy Troxler gives a charitable interpretation to both traditionalists and progressives while wrestling with the desire to stay one church amidst our differences.
Adam Hamilton, pastor of the largest United Methodist Church, located in Leawood, Kansas, deserves a voice just by his sheer position and influence. In this piece, and he's written many about GC, he gives a scathing rebuke of the Wesleyan Covenant Association (WCA), one of the conservative branches of the UMC.
Timothy Tennant, President of Asbury Theological Seminary, speaks from a traditionalist perspective. He expands the conversation regarding same-sex marriage beyond our typical arguments and questions, asking us to consider other implications we may not acknowledge at first glance.
Kevin Watson, Assistant Professor of Wesleyan and Methodist Studies at Candler School of Theology, questions whether marriage is dependent on cultural context. He argues that the One Church Plan (and Connectional Plan) assumes that different cultural contexts require a contextualized approach to marriage without giving evidence for such a claim. Contextualization has simply been asserted as a
self-evident truth, in Watson's estimation. He concludes by arguing marriage is defined by God, not the shifting winds of culture.
Jorge Acevedo, Lead Pastor of Grace Church in southwest Florida and member of The Commission on a Way Forward, gives a helpful spectrum of exclusion/inclusion regarding UMC churches. As a traditionalist, his article is full of grace, acknowledging there are no winners coming out of GC.
Mike Voigts, Associate Professor of Spiritual Formation at Asbury Theological Seminary, without ignoring the importance of what was voted on, analyzes the process of Holy Conferencing we engaged in, concluding it is a broken system in need of a fresh breath from the Holy Spirit.