A House Divided

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Reporting from Portland

By Rachael Sumner | GC 2016 Lay Delegate

I have received texts and Facebook messages all day asking how General Conference is going and what the mood and attitude is like out here today. I'll be honest. It's been a tough day. This morning Bishop Ough made a statement on behalf of the Council of Bishops regarding the Church's division over human sexuality. If you didn't see it, you can watch it here.

Bishop Bruce R. Ough, president of the Council of Bishops, responds to social media posts claiming the church’s bishops are calling for a special General Conference to discuss a possible split. Ough emphasized the bishops remain committed to the unity of the denomination. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS

While it should have been common sense to me that the bishops don't necessarily know what to do with this nor do they agree on what should happen, it hadn't really occurred to me before. It was an unsettling revelation and I think the tension was felt throughout the convention center. A motion came to the floor requesting the Council of Bishops meet and come back to our General Conference with some sort of guidance on how we as a church proceed and work through our division. Our bishops are our spiritual leaders and to think that they don't have answers either leaves us feeling at a loss. Their advice would not be something as a body are bound to, we are earnestly seeking a way forward within the denomination.

So if I had to sum up how I feel right now it would be unsettled. I'm not sure how we as a church can find unity or come to any kind of agreement. I pray we do. I pray that our bishops will bring wise counsel in the morning and we can find a way forward through this to love one another through these differences.

During one of our breaks this afternoon I spent some time in the quiet of the prayer room, walking the labyrinth and praying at some of the other stations for the Holy Spirit to envelop this place and give peace and wisdom. My prayer is that we can see each other through the eyes of Jesus and love as he loves.

We will see what tomorrow holds. I'm nervous and unsettled tonight as I go to bed. God is here, He is with us and my prayer is that we will keep our eyes focused on Him and keep the main thing the main thing.

John Wesley said, "Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may. Herein all the children of God may unite, notwithstanding these smaller differences.” While this doesn't seem like a small difference, I know we serve a mighty big God.

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