In spite of what you have may have heard, General Conference was actually a great experience. And, we did not spend the whole time talking about human sexuality. We spent the majority of the time doing the business of the church, including making plans to provide clean water and education for some of the world's poorest communities, forming partnerships on both halves of the Korean Peninsula for the purpose of bringing peace to one of the most divided parts of the world, commissioning missionaries for work around the globe, and much more, as well as some of the more practical and ordinary business of organizing and running a world-wide church that is able to do extraordinary things because of our connection.
And yes, we did spend some of our time arguing about human sexuality. This led to the body to taking the unprecedented step of asking our bishops to take the lead in helping us find our way to a solution. Our bishops graciously took the challenge and spent many hours praying, debating, and then finally issuing a plan.
That plan includes forming a commission that will include representatives from the various viewpoints within our church. These men and women, led by our bishops, will explore creating a plan forward that is acceptable to all parties.
The special commission removes the pressure of time constraints from the conversation so that we can allow cooler heads and calmer hearts to prevail. In short, it allows us to handle our disagreements as Christians. Over a course of time we can discuss how we either move forward together or how we can part in a fair and equitable way.
So what should our congregation make of this? I see it as a great opportunity. Our congregation has many conservative people. But, we also have many wonderful Christians who are more progressive. We have many different viewpoints within our own church. And, the opportunity, as I see it, is that we have time to focus on what matters most. We have time to think carefully and deeply about those things which unite us, as we prayerfully consider how to be goo partners in the larger conversation our denomination is having.
And, this is how I prepose for us to do that. First, we are going to focus on what it means to be Wesleyan Christians in the 21st century. Being Wesleyan is not the only way to be a faithful follower of Jesus, but it is our way and the tradition of our part of the Christian family. And, the Wesleyan tribe represents more than 70 million Christians around the world. So we are going to focus on what it means to be Wesleyan Christians in our day.
We are also going to talk about what it means to simply be Christian. We are going to spend time exploring the core beliefs that unite the two billion Christians around the world.
We are also going to look very closely at the Biblical foundations for our faith. This will mean looking at the beauty and complexity of the Biblical narrative, as we try to understand ways in which the Bible informs and shapes our faith.
Finally, after having done that work, we will try to give prayerful thought to some of the tough issues facing us today, including the issue of human sexuality.
As we enter into this time of conversation, I want to ask you to be brave, truthful, and kind. I ask you to be slow to speak and quick to listen. I also ask you to be respectful and considerate of those who differ in opinion from you. At the end of this this time of Christian conversation, what Wesley called Christian conferencing, we may not all end up seeing eye to eye. We may not find ourselves able to all think alike but, by God's grace, we may still be able to love alike.
Perhaps we and our denomination will be able to find a way to continue traveling together; but even if we find that we must part and go our separate ways, we will at least be able to part as friends.
I believe that the Holy Spirit has given us an unique opportunity to explore what it means to live in Christian community. What will do with this gift? That is ours to answer.