The opening worship of the General Conference was inspiring and well done. I was especially thankful for the Apostle’s creed as it is one of the confessions that has historically united the Christian church in belief. It was inspiring to see the church worship together in community as we should. Of course, right next to the worship service there was the twitter feed with all that brings to the table. Complaints about male dominated language, patriarchy, no mention of the climate crisis, etc. All to be expected in this day and age. One post particularly complained about the language of authority of God which confused me a bit. That should be a given really. All and all the service was very well done I thought.
There were a few things that were disturbing though. There were reports of LGBTQ attendees and their allies singing and/or chanting Micah 6:8 over the delegates singing. Why is it disturbing that a scripture was being spoken? Well for starters, it is over the praise of those there. When we lift our voices in song as a community of Christians that is praise. When we do it together, it is corporate praise. When we try to interrupt that praise with our protests and agendas, it is not. That saddened me. A group that cries out for inclusion so often separating themselves from the praise of God’s people. It always saddens me to see people not engaged in worship with the rest of the congregation.
The biggest disappointment was the setting up, by Love Prevails, with the endorsement of Reconciling Ministries, setting up separate communion tables. They were called “queer friendly” tables. It is insulting as the table of the UMC is indeed an open table and this is false separation manufactured for little more than publicity. No one was refused. No suggestion was made that someone would be. This was purposeful and willful separation form the others gathered. This is the celebration of the Eucharist. This is where we are all to be one. This is the one place that we come where we are truly equal. This is where Love Prevails chose to separate. What ever may come from the General Conference, that will stick with me. In this protest over LGBTQ matters in the church, this is the second time the Eucharist has been used not as a table where we are equal., not as a means of grace, not as the real presence of Christ in the bread and the cup, but as a time of selfish protest. The Eucharist is about who Christ is, not about who we are. It is saddening and disturbing that some made it the other way around.