By Beauty Maenzanise.
Since 1996, I have attended the United Methodist General Conference as an observer. The climax of pressure and divisions has been increasing each quadrennial. Each past General Conference had its thorny issues at the table. The 2012 conference was buzzing with talk of restructuring. Not that the other issues were not important, but restructuring has been shaking every corner of the denomination, from local churches to seminaries worldwide to the general boards and agencies. This has drawn a lot of attention around the globe where the UMC is. It has also drawn a lot of money, time, and energy.
By Linda Lee.
he 2012 General Conference of The United Methodist Church was an emotional roller coaster. Just when it seemed the body had moved one way, it swung about in a different direction altogether. There were the expected differences of perspectives, understandings, and beliefs. And there were surprises—unexpected twists and turns, which sometimes brought us to laughter, tears, anger, or disillusionment. The surprises revealed a deeper conflict within The United Methodist Church body than we may desire to admit. But conflict is always an opportunity to go deeper, to grow into more maturity and to create new solutions.
By Laceye Warner.
A distinction of United Methodism is its polity, which focuses responsibility on the General Conference. The General Conference is an internationally representative body that meets every four years. Most notably, the General Conference possesses the sole authority to speak for the denomination. Yet, to many the results of the last General Conference were largely inconclusive, disappointing, even infuriating. There was much discussion, but little was resolved, contributing to a post–General Conference melancholy.
By Billie Nowabbi.
The 2012 General Conference left its connectional members with challenges for uncovering creative possibilities; it also created new situations. The question is, how have these challenges and situations changed our ethical and theological consciousness? Our relationships and motivation? Specifically, is our compassion toward socially marginalized people an act of charity, or an act of justice?
Carlee L. Hallman shares a poem about the place of clergy.
By Allyson C. Talbert.
In biblical times, the responsibilities of the distinctive office of the deacon were to attend to those without resources and to handle the material needs of the congregation. In the early church, deaconesses were women whose main duties were to minister to the poor, to widows, and to orphans, and to teach religious doctrine to women preparing for baptism. As the priesthood and episcopacy increased, so did the clerical duties of the diaconate. “The sick and poor were gathered into hospitals, or looked after by the novitiates and other pious workers, and the deacon eventually became a ‘minister’ in the ecclesiastical sense.” From its inception, the ministry of the deacon has been a teaching, healing, and equipping ministry—a ministry of Word, Service, Compassion, and Justice.
By J. Kabamba Kiboko.
This article will discuss the decision of the General Conference to create and fund a Global Theological Education Fund, to be administered by The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM), and the impact of this decision on central conferences in Africa. I maintain that this decision will keep us on the road to increasing the number of clergy members throughout Africa and especially the formation of clergywomen on the continent.
By Iwy Patel-Yatri.
The General Conference certainly evoked responses from many people: clergy and laity, men and women, even from those who are not United Methodists! As I write this article, only two months after General Conference, the full impact of the decisions is yet to be known. Therefore, I can only speculate as to what will come next. In my reflection on General Conference decisions, I feel concern; however, I choose to rely on and trust in God and move forward in Love.
Book Review: Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed a Nation at War: A Memoir, by Leymah Gbowee, with Carol Mithers
By Elizabeth Tapia.
At age thirty-nine, Leymah Gbowee wrote her memoir depicting women’s realities, struggles, and powers during the despotic rule of Charles Taylor and his goons in the late nineties. She complained that during the civil war in Liberia, male reporters would give accounts of destruction, brutal rape, and killings, but almost no one reported the courageous sacrifice and contribution of women to peace building and the daily struggle to keep families safe and alive. This book is not only Leymah’s personal memoir of being a peace and women’s rights activist; it is also about Liberian women’s collective story of their love for freedom, dignity, and self-determination.
By Elizabeth Tapia, of the Bulacan Philippines Annual Conference, provides a list of resources on Women and Women’s Lives/Ministries, a brief list of books on Christian Mission and World Christianity, and some online resources.