What am I Driving? Further Reflections on #gc2019

This morning, I met with a group of clergy colleagues in what is a regularly scheduled gathering. Today we shared, reflected, grieved, considered the future and talked about what and how to best share with our local congregations the events of General Conference. I shared an image of the disorientation that I am feeling in response to the passing of the Traditional Plan…

It’s like I am driving our minivan down the highway. I am making progress toward my destination. Everything seems to be running pretty well. We are on the way. I stop to refill the fuel tank and pick up some snacks. As I get out of the vehicle and start to head inside the convenience store, I take a look back and suddenly, it’s not my the minivan. It turns out that it is a truck.

Wait a minute… What?!

I thought I was driving toward a destination and all of a sudden, I realize that I have been driving inside a completely different vehicle. What happened to the familiar surroundings of the vehicle with which I was familiar? What have I been driving all this time?


The re-affirmation of the Traditional Plan three times over – in the prioritization, in legislative committee, and in the plenary session of General Conference 2019 is confusing. I thought that I have been part of a denomination that is moving toward full inclusion throughout the entire life of the church – albeit slowly and hesitatingly. Yet, the evidence of the voting demonstrates that this is not true – at least not on a denominational level. It is frustrating to find that the United Methodist Church turned away from greater inclusion. Yet, it also illuminates the truth: There is a need action in new ways, with creative approaches, and bolder vision. I don’t yet know what this looks like, however I want to help figure out what’s next for a more inclusive church.

Friends and Colleagues

One of the ongoing growing edges for me in life and ministry is spending time with friends and colleagues. As a pastor in the local church, good relationships are essential to my role. I feel good about my ability to build connections within the congregation. However, there are times when I know that I miss the connections of friendships outside the local church and with clergy colleagues. While there are a handful of people with whom I have stayed in connection for a number of years, I know that I need to make progress in this area for my own well-being.

In recent months, I have reconnected with some old friends, met with new colleagues, and been more intentional about the relationships of which I am a part – both in the local church, community, and across the connection. I am glad for this. I am hopeful to continue to build on these relationships and others as I continue to seek to be fruitful in ministry and whole across all areas of my life.

Myths of Annual Conference: Relationships

I want to build on the myth of avoiding relationship in the Annual Conference because of a potential supervisory role in the future. I have heard it said that it is not possible to form deep relationships with other members of the annual conference.

This is untrue and damages the connection.

I reassert that it is crucial to share my life with colleagues in ministry because the community of the annual conference is one of the most important, perhaps the most important, community of which I am a part as a United Methodist pastor. I have found that the relationships that I have built with other clergy are important for my own soul and for my leadership in ministry. Does it take effort? Absolutely. It is important and worth it. Not being able to form real relationships is a myth of the annual conference.