I am so very grateful to be here. Still, after 8 days of long hours and endless debates, inspiring worship and heartbreaking moments it still seems a remarkable thing to be a part of our United Methodist Church. In the weeks leading up to this General Conference, I tried to prepare myself for what I assumed would be a disappointment in our system as I would be exposed to the politics and strategizing that are inevitable here. Those things are all present but what I didn’t expect was this powerful, never ending feeling of hope - like a drumbeat that never, ever stops.
I felt it in the opening worship where I was acutely aware of that presence that is both in us and beyond us - leading us all to expect great things to happen in our connection and in our world.
I felt it in my committee work as I sat around the table with United Methodists from all around the world. Our views were vastly different on many issues and other times our vote was unanimous as we reasoned together. I felt a deep connection with this group as we suspended the rules for a while and took some time for deep discussion over issues that tend to divide. It was a holy moment for me.
I felt it even yesterday through a long and difficult discussion over the issue of homosexuality. Many on both sides of the issue felt the pain and disappointment of that vote and yet, the drumbeat of hope continued through their peaceful witness this morning as we received their pain and truly listened as the body of Christ. A sister delegate from Mississippi responded to my tears with a warm embrace and again I felt hope.
As I sit here and think about so many other things to write, I will simply conclude by saying thank you for allowing me to have this experience. I will carry this hope with me always.