Monday, May 16 – Back to Work

Voting, deelgates arms raised

We returned to the Oregon Convention Center – following a much-needed day off on Sunday.

Most of the day was spent electing people to commissions, agencies, judicial council, and university senate.

“I am honored to have been elected to serve as a member of the Committee on General Conference for the next 8 years,” said the Rev. Dr. Gary George.  He and the other members of the committee will soon begin making plans for General Conference 2020 in Minneapolis.

The day also featured celebrations of the 250th anniversary of John Street Church in New York, and the 150th anniversary of United Methodist Women.

Deaconesses and home missioners were consecrated during the morning worship service.  Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey, of the Louisiana Conference, preached during that service from Matthew 22:1-14.

In her sermon she connected the wedding from the passage to the General Conference gathering in Portland.

“Like any good preacher, Matthew crafted this parable to speak to his specific congregation: a church with two factions: Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians,” Harvey said.  “Imagine his coming into the fellowship hall with a center aisle and folding chairs on each side filled with his contentious congregation.

“The only thing both groups had in common was that neither one thought they had to do anything except criticize the other.

“The Jews said, ‘We have Abraham as our father.  We can rest on our religious pedigree.’

“The Gentiles said, ‘We are saved by grace, with no need to adhere to the rituals of the Jews.’

“As Matthew walks down the aisle toward the front to share this parable he hears the Jewish Christians on one side trash talking the Gentile Christians ‘We were here first.’  And the Gentiles responding with their trash talk, ‘Yeah, but God saved the best for last!’

“This banquet – the one in the parable AND the banquet we gather for here in Portland – is a call to new life – a new way of being – this banquet is for those who have showed up, ready to put on the wedding garment, the robe of righteousness.

“Our host is the One who says, ‘It is no longer enough to give lip service’ – it is time for you to work together, to do something – to honor our work,” Harvey said.

During the Church and Society presentation in the afternoon, the Rev. Dr. Pamela Lightsey, of Boston University School of Theology, led a large group bent on doing something to provoke change.

Shouting “black lives matter,” the protesters processed through the convention hall, bringing a stop to business for nearly 30 minutes.  In a loud voice Lightsey implored the delegates to stop legislating hate and warned that the protests will continue until they heed her words.

Reactions to the demonstration were mixed.  Some cheered, some sat in silence … East Ohio delegates prayed.

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