Interesting Goings On at General Conference–Asking Forgiveness

Dear Trinity Tribe,

One of the most difficult things we can do as people (and as Christians) is to admit our faults and the things we have done wrong.  We have problems with friends or spouses or coworkers or people we are dating and we say things that are mean, selfish, or with anger.  We even make huge mistakes as a country.  One of those mistakes we have made is Anglo-Americans have treated Native Peoples in the United States.  The United Methodist Church also played a part in racism and injuring Native Peoples in the our country.  In the Church, when we do something wrong we ask God for forgiveness and repent and turn back to God and ask to reconcile with our brothers and sisters.  That is actually where our practice of shaking hands at Church comes from.  That is supposed to be a time where we ask for forgiveness and mend fences with people we have hurt along with being a time of greeting and hospitality.  At General Conference, we have worked to mend fences and admit wrongs and reconcile with Native Peoples at a special worship service that was simulcast here in Robeson County.

 

During part of the service, a number of bishops stood on behalf of the Council of Bishops asking for forgiveness for the church’s part in the atrocities perpetrated against indigenous people and promising to take concrete steps in the follow-up to General Conference to ensure mistreatment of native people ends.

 

Bishop Rosemarie Wenner of Germany outlined some of those steps:

• supporting Native American Ministry Sunday in the United States
• supporting general Advances and church funding for Native American Ministries
• committing to developing new Native American and indigenous ministries

• committing to acts of repentance in annual conferences
• education for non-native people about why acts of repentance are important
• developing new native and indigenous leaders. (From nccumc.org)

 

It is a good thing that we admit when we are wrong.  It is what God calls us to do!  In 1 John 1:9, the writer tells us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  And Acts 2:38 tells us, “And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  When we admit our wrongs and ask God and our neighbor for forgiveness, we get closer to God and heal relationships.  It is hard to admit that we are wrong, but it is such a freeing experience!

More News from General Conference!

 

General Conference Approves United Methodist Women Autonomy

By a vote of 889 to 20, General Conference made United Methodist Women an autonomous organization within the United Methodist Church May 1 during its quadrennial meeting Tampa, Fla. The historic vote separates the national policymaking body of women organized for mission within the denomination from the church’s mission agency for the first time in more than 70 years.

“This is great result for United Methodist Women and for the church and positions us for the next 143 years of mission,” said Harriett Jane Olson, chief executive of the national United Methodist Women organization.

To read more go to: http://new.gbgm-umc.org/umw/news/press/item/index.cfm?id=876

 

New introduction to Social Principles

It is not a new insight to discover that United Methodists don’t agree on every subject.

Delegates opposed, 407 to 383, a longer preamble proposed for the Social Principles by a legislative committee. They agreed with a minority report that affirms “our unity in Jesus Christ while acknowledging differences in applying our faith in different cultural contexts as we live out the gospel.”

Voting 532 to 414, delegates in a May 1 plenary session added a clause, “We stand united in declaring our faith that God’s grace is available to all –– that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.”

Some delegates argued against the added sentence saying that belief and action can separate us from the love of God in Jesus. Others suggested that there is a difference between God’s love for all and human response to that love.

The full introductory statement was approved 632 to 302.

 

A UMNS Report
By Elliott Wright*

May 1, 2012 | TAMPA, Fla.

Ministry With the Poor event at 2012 United Methodist General Conference Lawrence Wilson delivers box lunches to participants in a May 1 celebration of Ministry With the Poor at a park near the site of the 2012 United Methodist General Conference in Tampa, Fla. The meal was provided by Inside the Box Catering, a project of Metropolitan Ministries’ Social Entrepreneurship Initiative. A UMNS photo by Paul Jeffrey.
Click on image to enlarge. View more photos.

Delegates and guests at General Conference 2012 ate and sang with homeless people in downtown Tampa at noon on May Day. The special occasion celebrated the church’s emphasis on Ministry with the Poor.

More than 500 people passed through a tent in a public park to receive free box lunches (volunteer donations welcomed) at “Break Bread With* Tampa,” sponsored by a denominational task force on Ministry with the Poor, the church’s Council of Bishops and local ministries. The watchword of the focus is ministry “with”—not “to” or “for”—the poor.

 

Bishops, conference delegates from four continents, and local advocates for the poor kept time to the music of a choir from Côte d’Ivoire and a band made up of homeless men and women from Tampa. Most of the homeless who live in the immediate area looked on from outside the tent. Some of the bishops and delegates went out to join them.

 

Booths at the noon event just inside the tent provided information on a large range of local, denominational and ecumenical ministries with the poor. Among these was Amazing Love Ministries of Tampa, which organized the choir of homeless persons. Amazing Love Ministries ran a food ministry in the parking lot at a United Methodist church for three years and recently obtained a building in the Ybor City section of Tampa.

 

The few speeches at “Break Bread With* Tampa” pointed to the universal nature of God’s love, and the shift of venues was a welcome break for conference delegates from the legislative tedium that consumes them in the convention center.

The food was provided by Inside the Box, an initiative of Metropolitan Ministries. The enterprise runs a café and catering service that trains people, using expert instructions on ways to enter the food service industries.

The largest display booth was that of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, which is campaigning for a raise in the pay of Florida farmworkers. The display featured the containers in which workers put tomatoes picked by hand. Some “Break Bread With* Tampa” visitors tried to pick up one of the containers – and found them amazingly heavy.

 

The Rev. John Edgar, senior pastor of the Church For All People in Columbus, Ohio, served as emcee for the lunch program. His congregation is involved in an extensive community development effort in the Ohio city.

Bishop Joel Martinez, chair of the Council of Bishops’ committee on Ministry with the Poor, welcomed the crowd of diverse people.  The event was planned by Dr. Mary Ellen Kris, consultant on Ministry with the Poor at the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, and a team of volunteers from Tampa.

The United Methodist General Conference is comprised of delegates from the United States, many parts of Africa, continental Europe and the Philippines.

Local co-sponsors include Amazing Love Ministries, Cornerstone Ministries and Metropolitan Ministries. Later in the day, Communities of Shalom, an international ministry, offered training in faith-based community development at Hyde Park United Methodist Church, near the convention center.

Who can we mend fences with today?  Is there someone you have hurt?  Is there someone you need to reconcile with?  May God give us the courage to admit our faults and mend those fences today.