General Conference 2016 is over and left me with a variety of feelings and reflections.
- Don't ever undervalue the ability of prayer to make a difference in our lives and ministry as a Church. This General Conference was bathed in prayer more than any of the others I have attended. Those of us in Portland were constant in our praying and United Methodists from around the world lifted us in prayer every day. The Prayer Room was my favorite place in the Convention Center. So often in Portland I was reminded that prayer is our first priority. Prayer undergirds and sustains who we are and all that we do.
- I rejoiced in the global growth of our church. The critical involvement and leadership from our delegates from outside the United States reminded me that the Holy Spirit is moving in wonderful and surprising ways in our Church. The witness of our sisters and brothers in other nations is an important corrective to our spiritual arrogance, materialism and cultural assumptions.
- There were many "glory sightings" too numerous to list. Our worship was vibrant, Christ-centered and global. I loved it. In our worship, table conversations and legislative meetings we experienced God's presence in fresh ways.
- Our issues around human sexuality remain and continue to captivate too much of our time and attention. As the General Conference struggled with these matters, there emerged a deep commitment by our delegates to unity. In spite of the wide diversity of opinion in our church, the vast majority of United Methodists desire for us to find a way forward together. To that end, the Bishops were asked to form a "Commission" to prayerfully consider the issues of sexuality and accountability which cause so much continued conflict in our Church. One of the challenges will be to discern ways for us to discover a unity which is not superficial or vague. Our unity must be based on a solid and specific covenant. We must pray for God to lead us on a path that is way beyond our human wisdom.
- Until then, The Discipline of our Church remains unchanged on the issue of same gender marriage and requirements for ordination. As long as I am a Bishop I will uphold The Discipline as I have for the past 20 years. I urge all of our clergy and laity to do the same.
I look forward to seeing many of you face to face at our Annual Conference session in Bowling Green. Come ready to celebrate our ministry here in Kentucky.
Bishop Lindsey Davis