It is late (very late) on May 21 and I await my “red eye” departure from Portland on UNITED. Ironic? Maybe? I choose to call it a reminder of the resounding cry of the faithful followers of Jesus Christ we call UNITED Methodist who gathered for the past 11 days in Portland.
I am leaving Portland and General Conference 2016 with my mind and my heart racing as I reflect on the events of the past three weeks. I arrived on May 1 and spent two days in Mount Hood with the women bishops in a time of retreat and reflection. On May 3, I checked into my hotel, in Portland; my home away from home until just a few hours ago.
Our time together was filled with tension that in a unique and challenging turn of events, I believe, responded to the stirring of the Spirit in so many ways. We prayed together, worshipped together, laughed together and cried together.
The past three weeks have been filled with a series of ups and downs, celebrations and “oh my goodness, I can’t believe this is happening” moments. As I sat through hours of points of order and speeches for and against, I reminded myself of the incredible ministry that was happening in Louisiana. Tonight, I find solace and great hope that in a few hours, people will fill our churches, the gospel will be proclaimed, children will be taught the stories of Jesus and disciples will continue to be nurtured in the faith. #WeAreMore
I am still processing the events of this year’s General Conference and will have more salient comments in the weeks to come but for now I celebrate that we are still the UNITED Methodist Church. A deep desire for unity was the thread that held us together these 11 days.
While I celebrate the amazing ministry that is happening across the connection, I also recognize that many parts of our body are hurting. My prayer is that we will remain faithful and that we will listen for all the voices, even if we have to strain to hear them.
The bishops are working hard. We remain committed to unity and will continue to pray our way forward as we work to shape a future that will be fruitful and will build the body of Christ to a renewed fitness for ministry and life-giving work. We don’t have all the answers and sometimes we have more questions than answers but trust that we are doing the hard, deliberate and what might often seem slow work of the church. We want to do things right and that might take more patience than many of us are used to or have patience for. We are doing our best to remain attentive to the leading of the Spirit. We covet your prayers and covet your patience in this anxious and urgent time.
All manner of things shall be well.
Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey