Friday, May 25, 2018

Hendrik Pieterse: My Hope for Methodism

Today's post is part of a series that features United Methodist scholars and leaders from around the world reflecting on their hope for the future of The United Methodist Church as a global movement within the larger context of worldwide Methodism as a whole. Today's post is written by Dr. Hendrik R. Pieterse, Associate Professor of Global Christianity and World Religions at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.

When United Methodists seek to cast a vision of our “nature” as a church, we routinely employ the terms global and worldwide. Paragraph 123 of the Book of Discipline reminds us of the “global nature of our mission” as a denomination, while ¶125 speaks eloquently of our “connectional covenant” as a set of “interdependent worldwide partnerships in prayer, mission, and worship.”

This is a powerful vision, and I affirm it. In fact, it expresses my hope for United Methodism. It is a genuine hope, but a chastened one, for these claims we make about ourselves remain largely unaddressed and unfulfilled.

And so I think it is more truthful to say we stand at the threshold of becoming a “worldwide connectional covenant.” Our vision describes a United Methodist Church we can become but are not yet. The fact is crossing that threshold requires that we become a worldwide connection in conviction and practice and not just in sentiment and name. Paragraph 125 puts the point provocatively: Our “worldwide nature,” it says, must become a “living practice” in our congregations, woven deeply into their daily being and doing. In other words, our worldwide covenant must take on concrete life in our churches, shaping congregational mission, discipleship, and witness.

This is an audacious suggestion, but difficult to visualize. What would such a living practice look like in our congregations, our conferences, our general church? What needs to happen for it to take form? What values and habits need correcting or abandoning? Which need adopting, retrieving, or renewing? And perhaps most important: Is such an idea even worth considering right now? After all, we find ourselves in a worldwide United Methodist connection fractured by factional standoffs, distrust, divisions, and brinkmanship. For many of us, the idea of a connectional covenant-as-living-practice feels like a pipe dream at best and cynical propaganda at worst. I too share these misgivings, more or less intensely, depending on the day.

So yes, the idea is counterintuitive, to put it mildly. And yet, I believe the vision of a worldwide connectional covenant as living practice might just provide us with a pathway through our current brokenness toward the church we can become but are not yet.

Unlike the Bishops’ Commission on a Way Forward, I have no plans to recommend for traversing this pathway. But then, I don’t think plans are where we need to start. Better to start at the level of presupposition, value, habit, and practice. After all, more often than not, fueling our intractable conflicts are unexamined presuppositions, unquestioned beliefs, default habits, and taken-for-granted practices. Let me suggest a couple such habits and practices we would do we to examine as we consider this pathway.

In reflecting on our “worldwide connectional covenant,” let’s focus on “covenant” more than “worldwide.” We seem enamored with geography: where we are located around the globe, where we are growing and declining, which areas need additional or fewer bishops, and the like. These are important concerns. However, in the process we can easily neglect the theological center of the phrase, namely, “covenant.”

As I understand this rich biblical concept, covenantal relationships exist in two modes: Some are symmetrical (the human partnerships) and some are asymmetrical (the divine-human partnership). Paragraph 125 uses phrases like “web of interactive relationships,” “interdependent worldwide partnerships in prayer, mission, and worship,” and “a covenant of mutual commitment based on shared mission, equity, and hospitality” to describe the symmetrical dimension.

What is virtually missing in the paragraph (and in our churchly discourse) is the asymmetrical dimension: We are equal partners with one another, but not with God. The covenant exists because of God’s initiative. Without it, there is no covenant, no “connection.” And that divine initiative—that divine mission—forever transcends our plans and our prognostications, as a grace that always “goes before.” This lends the covenant an eschatological character—open, pliable, expectant. If we believe that God’s mission grounds our “connectional covenant,” too, should we not then be a bit less ready right now to design our own undoing? Shall we not at least hold open the possibility that there is a connection we can become but are not yet?

Let’s resist the temptation to substitute affinity for unity. Against our better instincts, United Methodists tend to think of unity as conformity and compliance and diversity as autonomy and freedom. Paragraph 125 encourages this view by juxtaposing “connectional unity” with “local freedom.” On this view, the freedom to be different must be wrested from the sameness of unity. (Even a cursory reading of the Commission’s deliberations reveals the same understanding at work.)

The very real danger is that such a view of unity can easily justify a move to unity as affinity, as conformity by self-selection. This is particularly tempting when an issue—at the moment, sexuality—becomes the criterion for how, why, and with whom we belong. Such a moribund understanding of unity and diversity puts paid to the possibility of a worldwide connectional covenant. Perhaps it is time to ponder the idea of “connectional freedom”—a freedom found and lived precisely as a connection. Perhaps we discover our unity in and not despite our diversity.

Let’s not use “contextualization” as a strategy for resolving conflict. “Contextualization” and “contextual freedom” have become popular terms in our current discourse, notably in the Commission’s deliberations. The problem is that contextualization is employed as a tool for ameliorating discord, negotiating compromises, and forestalling division.

In fact, contextualization is not a tool or a strategy. It is the church’s obedience to a profound theological truth, namely, that God has chosen to dwell with us as one of us, in the cultural particularity of our cultural forms, our language, our context. That is, contextualization is the church’s acknowledgment of the Incarnation. Unless United Methodists see this truth, we will remain stuck at the threshold of the worldwide connection we can become—or abandon it altogether.

My chastened (at times, anguished) hope is that we will choose to surrender to a connectional covenant yet to be—in which “worldwide” and “global” depict a living practice, a form of discipleship, a spirituality, more than a location on a map.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Structure, Financing, and Early Methodism

Today's post is by UM & Global blogmaster Dr. David W. Scott, Director of Mission Theology at the General Board of Global Ministries. The opinions and analysis expressed here are Dr. Scott's own and do not reflect in any way the official position of Global Ministries.

Many are the voices who call for United Methodists to return to the ways of the early Methodism movement, either in England and/or in the United States.

These voices usually present some theological conviction or devotional practice associated with Methodism’s first several decades, when it was a rapidly growing movement. These arguments assert that if only we modern United Methodists could again believe as the early Methodists believed or practice our devotional lives as they practiced theirs, then we, too, could see the same some dramatic membership growth and spiritual revival that the early Methodists experienced.

While such arguments are not necessarily wrong, they often tend to be overly simplistic and ignore important differences in culture and worldview between people living in the eighteenth century and people living in the twenty first. Devotional practices, therefore, are perhaps easier to reclaim than theological systems, tied as those are to views of the self and society which have shifted dramatically, especially under the impact of modernity.

Yet there is another set of potential problems with such calls to return to the salad days of early Methodism. While a focus on theology and devotion are important and should be central to any truly faithful approach to Christianity, we cannot ignore issues of organizational structure or financing as an important scaffolding for theology and devotion. Yet calls to return to early Methodism routinely do so.

Early Methodism had intense and emotional religious convictions. It had a well-developed system of devotion built around small groups. It was also amazingly unstructured by the standards of the twenty-first century, owned few buildings, and relied on ministers who were paid largely in kind.

Scholars often talk about Wesley’s organizational genius as one of the aspects that made Methodism work. That is true; Wesley’s approach to classes, bands, and itinerant preachers was the stroke of genius that ensured Methodism’s growth. Yet, while early Methodism may have been well-organized relative to other evangelical movements of the eighteenth century, that does not mean it had anywhere near the level of organizational complexity that local congregations or the denomination as a whole had developed by the mid-twentieth century.

Early Methodism had class leaders, who functioned perhaps like lay leaders, but it also lacked finance committees, Sunday School Superintendents, children’s coordinators, office assistants, SPRCs, church archivists, VBS coordinators, choir directors, someone to handle church mailings, nursery staff, outreach coordinators, mission committees, administrative councils, sound board operators, finance secretaries, and in many cases, trustees.

And that’s just at the local congregation level. We could make similar lists for annual conferences and the general church.

Many Methodists would be willing to jettison several of the above-mentioned groups and positions, but I know of no one who would like to do away with the entire lot. It would be impossible to carry on all of the programming or functions that we’ve come to expect of our churches without them. In some cases (trustees and treasurer), it might not even be legal to do without them.

Then there’s the issue of buildings. Many, even most, early Methodist groups either met in people’s homes or in other public venues like courthouses and the forest. While there were some early Methodist chapels, these were the exception rather than the rule, and the buildings were pretty crude in many cases – just large halls. No kitchen, no Sunday School wing, no office space. This made them cheaper, but again they provided no where near the level of amenities that we think of as basic to a church building in modern America.

Finally, there’s the issue of pastoral salaries. While Methodist ministers, most of them itinerant, were always theoretically paid some level of salary, practically they were often unable to collect it from their congregations. They were frequently paid in kind, through food, a place to stay, and perhaps some clothes. They could supplement their incomes through selling books to their parishioners. They had no health insurance and no pension.

While many would like United Methodists to regain their bygone theological fervor and reimplement our disused devotional systems, few if any want us to scrap all of our committees and leadership positions, sell most of our buildings, and be served by itinerant pastors we see once a month whom we are then responsible for feeding, housing, and clothing while they are in town. Few pastors want to give up their health insurance, pension, and paycheck to oversee such a system.

Yet it is at least possible that the theology and devotional system won’t work in the same way without the structural and financial strategies that went along with them. If we want Methodism to grow exponentially, but then we require that growth to include all the expenses and volunteer time associated with 21st century approaches to doing churches, then we may have set for ourselves an impossible task.

I am not saying that organizational complexity, pension systems, or buildings with electricity, plumbing, and air conditioning are always bad things. I am, however, saying that they come at a price and we do ourselves and others a disservice by pretending they don’t.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Recommended Readings on Staunen! European Methodist Festival

European Methodists assemble every three years for a festival titled "Staunen!" ("Amazement"). As the event's website states, "It's not a training course, not a church retreat and also not a group holiday: it's a bit of everything and yet something completely different."

Staunen! 2018 ran May 9-13 in Cuxhaven, Germany. The UMC/EmK in Germany carried several stories reporting on the festival. Reading through the stories gives a sense of the flavor of European Methodism across many countries.

The stories (all in German) are as follows (with English translations of their titles and description):

Traumhafter Auftakt - Dreamlike Start: Pure sunshine and a great festival area frame the beginning of the "Staunen!" Festival.Bishop Rückert invites attendees to "dream."

Schlaglichter der Vielfalt - Highlights of Diversity: The diversity of life is reflected in the program of the European Methodist Festival in Cuxhaven

Eine große Familie - A Big Family: An international festival thrives on encounters and a special flair. Visitors to the "Staunen!" Festival talk about their experiences.

Schritte Wagen - Dare to Step Out: The penultimate day of the European Methodist Festival had two highlights: the open-air worship service and the music evening.

Runter vom Berg! - Down from the Mountain!:The "Staunen!" festival in Cuxhaven ended with a sending church service. The accent on this Sunday was the return to everyday life.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Jerome Sahabandhu: Journeying Compassionately with Our Buddhist Neighbor

Today's post is by Rev. Dr. Jerome Sahabandhu, Mission Theologian in Residence at the General Board of Global Ministries. The opinions and analysis expressed here are Rev. Dr. Sahabandhu's own and do not reflect in any way the official position of Global Ministries.

On March 21st, 2018, Global Ministries’ Mission Dialogue Forum invited Ven. Panamwela Wajirabuddhi Thero, the Abbot of Georgia Buddhist Vihara in Lithonia, to offer an educational session for our staff on the basic teachings and expansion of Buddhism.

He was born in Sri Lanka and wanted to engage in mission work in the US. After completing his education in Sri Lanka and Thailand, Wajirabudhhi Thero came to the United States of America in 1994 and stayed with the Cambodian community in Los Angeles for a few years. He learned Cambodian culture and language.

In 1999 Ven. P. Wajirabuddhi moved to Atlanta, Georgia and in June 2000 established the Georgia Buddhist Vihara. He is currently a regular visiting instructor to the Emory Buddhist Club, Emory University. He impressed Global Ministries as a well-read teacher in global issues and as a promoter of the teachings of the Buddha for world peace, global compassion and community harmony. He has engaged in this work while also taking care of his Sri Lankan Buddhist community in metro Atlanta, which is primarily of the Theravada tradition. The monk said all religions should engage in dialogue with the other religious traditions for peace and common good.

There are about 500 million Buddhists in the world today belonging to the three major branches of contemporary Buddhism. These branches are Theravada Buddhism, Mahayana Buddhism, and Vajrayana Buddhism. Some consider Vajrayana part of Mahayana.

Unlike in Christianity there are no baptismal membership rolls maintained in Buddhism, though it is estimated that the Buddhist population in the America reaches as high as 3.5 to 4 million. ("Reflections on Buddhist Demographics in America: An Initial Report on the First American Buddhist Census," by J. Gordon Melton and Constance Jones. A paper presented at the conference of the Association for the Study of Religion, Economics, and Culture meeting in Washington, DC, April 2-4, 2009). California stands out as a state that has the most Buddhist centers, with approximately 650.

Compassion – The Heart of Buddhism
Ven. Wajirabuddhi Thero highlighted the core aspects in the Buddha’s teachings: Metta, Karuna, Mudita, and Upekkha (in Pali language). Metta is understood as “Loving Kindness”, Karuna is “Compassion”, Mudita is “Sympathetic Joy” (or vicarious joy, the opposite of jealousy), and Upekkha is “Equanimity”. Together, these are called the “Brahma vihara bhavana” which occupy a central position in the field of personal heart-mind formation in Buddhism.

Karuna (Compassion) is characterized as promoting the removal of others' suffering. Its function is manifested as kindness. Its proximate cause is seeing helplessness in those overwhelmed by suffering. It succeeds when it makes cruelty subside, and it fails when it gives rise to sorrow.

We could engage in a comparative exploration of ‘compassion’ (Metta and Karuna) in Buddhism with Christian teaching of ‘love’ (Agape). This learning is of critical contemporary importance and might help us engage in a common struggle for Peace in the world today. Christians can most certainly work with Buddhists in developing interfaith friendships for a more compassionate world.

Four Noble Truths
Ven. Wajirabuddhi Thero also summarized The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism in the simplest terms as:
1. The truth of the existence of suffering/dissatisfaction in life (Dukkha Sathya)
2. The truth of the origin for suffering/dissatisfaction in life (Dukka Samudaya Sathya)
3. The truth of the cessation of suffering/dissatisfaction in life (Dukka Nirodha Sathya)
4. The truth of the path to cessation of the origin to suffering/dissatisfaction in life (Dukka nirodha gamini patipada Magga Sathya)

Given that suffering is a core concern in Christian mission, there is a fine opportunity for Christians to engage in comparative reflection here. Christians often reflect on two basic issues related to suffering: why do righteous people suffer, and how are we to reduce suffering in the world (including things like hunger, poverty, victims of violence and injustice, refugees etc.). Buddhist concern for extending loving kindness to all living beings posts a real and relevant challenge to Christians in the missional context of today’s environmental crisis.

My Buddhist Pilgrimage
As a Methodist, my journey of learning about Buddhism started with having a wonderful relationship with my Buddhist friends in my childhood school. It was a dialogue of life - meeting people from sister faiths in the market place, on the playground, on train and bus, and in the city. But my real educational encounter as an adult started through my ministerial formation at the Theological College of Lanka, Sri Lanka, where a Buddhist monk from a nearby temple served as a visiting faculty member.

It was in 1990 that I first met Ven. Bullumulle Sumanarathana Thero as my guru in Buddhist philosophy at the Theological College of Lanka. He had a very broad understanding of Christianity and the Bible and so was able to communicate with the young seminarians who were preparing for the ministry and mission in Sri Lanka and beyond. Ven. Sumanarathana Thero was honored for his long-standing service to the ecumenical Theological College of Lanka for fulfilling 30 years of ministry in 2014. At that time, I was blessed to be the Principal of the college.

Students who studied Buddhism in the seminary also had the opportunity to visit the temple very often, and to build long lasting missional friendships not only with the monks but also with the Buddhists who live in villages around the college.

As a Methodist who grew up in a primarily Buddhist cultural context, I have experienced growth in my own faith through these encounters, which have helped in my missional praxis and witness in an increasingly pluralistic world. My relations with Buddhism and other sister faiths has been a journey that has strengthened my own faith and my commitment. So many of my friends join me to testify that these relationships have resulted in producing both interfaith friendships for a better world and spiritual growth within ourselves.

Towards New Missiological Insights
Modern Christians should encounter people of sister faiths with the attitude of developing a greater understanding, harmony, and building peace in the society where God’s mission takes place, the world where God has called the Church to serve. Catholic Theologian Hans Küng wrote:

“No peace among the nations without peace among the religions. No peace among the religions without dialogue between the religions. No dialogue between the religions without investigation of the foundation of the religions” Hans Küng, Islam, Past Present & Future (Oxford: One-world Publications, 2007), p. xxiii.

In the traditional missiology, Christians tell Buddhists “who Christ is.” But in new the missiology framework, my Buddhist neighbor tells me who Christ is for them. Thereby the uniqueness of Christ is understood in a fresh way by encountering the Buddhist other.

Global mission is not exclusive to Christianity. Historically, Buddhists have many more years (nearly 2500 years) of experience in world mission than Christians, so it is humbling to learn from our Buddhist friends about their missional experiences of Buddhism’s contextualization and how it resiliently stood up to challenges over time.

The other challenge would be for Christians and Buddhists to compassionately journey together and work for peace, justice, and the integrity of creation.

“A person is not called wise because he talks and talks again; but if he is peaceful, loving, and fearless, then he is in truth called wise.”
“Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.”
― Gautama Buddha, The Dhammapada

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Filipina Theologians on UMC Gender Amendments

There have been many responses thus far to the recently announced non-ratification of two amendments to the United Methodist Church's constitution regarding gender justice.

I am honored to share four more responses, reflections from Filipina theologians. The Philippines was one of the areas of the UMC with the strongest support for the amendments.

The four theologians are as follows:

JENNIFER FERARIZA-MENESES, Executive Secretary, Board of Women's Work, Philippines Central Conference, "In the Imago Dei, We Shall Rise!: A Mother’s Day Reflection for May 13, 2018"

LIZETTE TAPIA-RAQUEL, Assistant Professor, Union Theological Seminary, Philippines, "An Open Letter to The United Methodist Church: On the Rejection of Amendments on Gender Equality and Inclusion to the Book of Discipline"

DARLENE MARQUEZ-CARAMANZANA, Program Secretary, Program Unit on Ecumenical Education and Nurture, National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), "An Unwelcome Gift"

NORMA DOLLAGA, Kapatirang Simbahan Para a Bayan (KASIMBAYAN) / Ecumenical Center for Development, "On the Rejection of an Amendment for Women's Equality: The Never, Never Sweet Sound of Rejection: Now a Parable"

Each piece is published separately on this website and accessible through the title links above. This post serves as a central linking spot for all four posts.

Lizette Tapia-Raquel: An Open Letter to The United Methodist Church: On the Rejection of Amendments on Gender Equality and Inclusion to the Book of Discipline

This post is by Lizette Tapia-Raquel, Assistant Professor, Union Theological Seminary, Philippines. The post is written as a response to the recently announced non-ratification of two amendments to the United Methodist Church's constitution regarding gender justice.

On April 18, 1968, my mother and father, Lydia Galima and Jose Tapia, along with an entire community of family and friends, mostly from the United Methodist Church, celebrated my birth as the first child of the union. On 23 April, 1968, the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church likewise celebrated their union to become the United Methodist Church. Thus, our Church and I are both celebrating fifty years this year.

The United Methodist Church has a long tradition of conferencing, ‘holy conferencing.’ We value our connectionalism and our global character despite our diversity as a people of faith. Thus, we gather, time and again, to be in conversation, to intentionally understand and deliberate on issues affecting the Church and our society, to define who we are as a community of faith and to raise our prophetic voice to transform our broken world. This we do because we believe “there is no holiness other than social holiness,” in the words of John Wesley.

The recent rejection of two amendments to the Book Discipline pertaining to gender equality and inclusion exhibits a crisis of faith for many of us called United Methodists, as well as our sisters and brothers in other denominations and faiths. Thus, I feel a need to ask these questions:

How do we understand our Christian identity? Who is this God we believe in and the Jesus we follow? How does it define us as communities of faith and as a Church?

What are we communicating to the women, our daughters and granddaughters, wives and sisters, our women bishops, pastors and deaconesses of our church? What are we teaching the men, our sons and grandsons, our husbands and brothers, our male bishops, pastors and lay? When we refuse equality between women and men, can we honor the women and girls in our churches and value their contributions and participation in our corporate lives?

How will our rejection of equality affect relationships between male and female clergy and bishops, female deaconesses and male pastors, between husbands and wives, sisters and brothers, male and female youth leaders in our churches and societies? How can we give testimony to a just and loving God when we cannot be just and love equally ourselves?

Who is truly welcome in our churches when we vote against inclusion? Can we truly live out our message, “Open Hearts. Open Minds. Open Doors?” How do we authentically advocate for the migrant, the refugee, the suffering and oppressed when we exclude those we have nurtured in and belonged to our own churches because of tradition and rules? By whose standards do we deny others inclusion into our faith community, God’s?

Are we saying that women are not equal to men? Are we saying that not everyone is welcome in our churches? Are we saying that we do not believe that we are all created in the image of God? Are we saying that we cannot live out Jesus’ greatest commandment of loving our neighbors?

I have been raised in a family of United Methodists and have always been affirmed as a female. I grew up with the Church as my second home and learned of love, equality, inclusivity and justice in its Sunday School rooms and big sanctuary. Now, I am fifty years old and on Sunday we celebrated Mother’s Day in churches in different parts of the world. But can we truly celebrate as women and as mothers in our churches?

If we cannot affirm the equality of women and men, and cannot commit to the inclusion of all into the United Methodist Church on its 50th year, what is there to celebrate?

Norma Dollaga: On the Rejection of an Amendment for Women's Equality: The Never, Never Sweet Sound of Rejection: Now a Parable

This piece is by Norma Dollaga, Kapatirang Simbahan Para a Bayan (KASIMBAYAN) / Ecumenical Center for Development. Ms. Dollaga is a deaconess in the Philippines Central Conference. This piece is written in response to the recently announced non-ratification of two amendments to the United Methodist Church's constitution regarding gender justice. It originally appear on Ms. Dollaga's personal blog, patentero, and is republished with the permission of the author.

“If voted and so declared by the Council of Bishops, ¶ 4 would read:

"The United Methodist Church is part of the church universal, which is one Body in Christ.

"The United Methodist Church acknowledges that all persons are of sacred worth. All persons shall be eligible to attend its worship services, participate in its programs, receive the sacraments, upon baptism be admitted as baptized members, and upon taking vows declaring the Christian faith, become professing members in any local church in the connection. In the United Methodist church, no conference or another organizational unit of the Church shall be structured so as to exclude any member or any constituent body of the Church because of race, color, national origin, ability, or economic condition, nor shall any member be denied access to an equal place in the life, worship, and governance of the Church because of race, color, gender, national origin, ability, age, marital status, or economic condition.”

Unfortunately, the amendment on women’s equality did not get enough vote to legislate that very important provision. However, the failure of the church to consider the said amendment does not define the totality of the church. It becomes a parable of the Church’s failure to celebrate grace, inclusive community and a welcoming church for everyone.

The parable goes like this:

“There was once a church who longs to fulfil and live out the message of Jesus Christ. It kept on proclaiming about how Jesus welcomed everyone in the table of communion, including the outcasts and the despicable ones. That Jesus welcomes those who, according to the standard of the empire, are deemed as problems of society. He welcomes even the sinners who discriminated and exploited the people, as long as they are willing to repent and join him in his cause. Jesus loves the children. He welcomed the women as his disciples and entrusted to Mary of Magdala, the most important news of resurrection becomes the theological basis of being church today. Jesus commissioned and sent her out: GO AND TELL. She was an apostle par excellence.

"Yet, as the church lives and ages, it looks like it has forgotten by heart the gift of humanity in female and male persons, in women and men. It has failed remember that our faith impels us to protect each one’s dignity, and nourish the gift of equality given us by God. The church becomes comfortable in accepting the poisonous normalcy of patriarchy that breeds inequality and discrimination.

"But there is a spirit ponders upon the gifts and this spirit that cannot be silenced within the church. This spirit cries out against the church system when the church becomes accustomed to the practice of patriarchy that marginalizes, discriminates, and promotes inequality. Thus, in a practical and humble action, this restless spirit tries to call the attention of the church and offered a proposed amendment. It takes only a practical and logical sense, and deep spiritual eyes to discern the value of the amendment. But lo and behold, this envisioned bequest did not translate into a vote that would make it truly a gift to the next generation!

"Today’s generation could have taken this historic moment to make a decision to truly affirm women’s place in the United Methodist Church’s constitution. Sadly, today’s generation made instead an oversight in perpetuating inequality within the church."

It continues the parable of ingratitude and the inability to celebrate to the gift of community, humanity, and solidarity. The church has become complacent and has let go not only of its priestly role, but also its crucial prophetic task.

The dignity, beauty, grace of LIFE and humanity is God’s gift to us. The protection, nourishment, and solidarity are our ways to honour these gifts. Today, it is not included in the church law, and so we wonder if the church could even speak of it within the ambit of love.

Those who voted for the amendment, and all who voted against it are part of the body of Christ. There are internal contradictions within and amongst us. Paul reminds us that we have to strive to make the greatest gift of love in concrete terms.

One thing is sure: the daughters of Zelophehad of modern times will continue and keep on knocking at the doors of justice and equality. They will not stop until strands of I justice and discrimination in church whether implicit or explicit will be dismantled. This we will do in memory of our foremothers who did trailblazing in eradicating discrimination and exclusion of women from the church and society. There is no other option but to pursue the dream of justice and equality.