By Kimberly Woods
General Conference has officially ended, but the decisions we have made and the conversations which took place are far from finished. Not only is there to be a discussion about human sexuality, with potentially its own General conference session to come, but all of the things we voted for, voted against, or tabled, will affect how we act and relate as Methodists, at least until the next General Conference. Likewise, I have made many friendships, faced a few hardships, & realized just how powerful our connections as United Methodists truly are.
I’ve had meaningful conversations with Methodists from across the country and across the globe. I’ve gotten to meet fellow young adults that share my views, as well as ones who challenged my way of thinking. I have met persons who surprised me with their viewpoints and insights, showing me in human form that you truly can’t judge a book by its cover. These past couple of weeks, these 14 days and the preparation leading up to them, have been powerful, prayer-filled, and emotionally exhausting.
I have been asked by many, as a first-time delegate, would I want to come back? My answer is an emphatic and urgent one: YES! Of course I want to come back. The process may be frustrating. There may have been decisions that made me weep and those which made me cheer, but I was blessed to be a part of that process. My voice was at that table and how could I ever want to give up that space? It is a difficult experience, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. My hope for the next General Conference, be it a special session or the one in 2020, is for more conversation and more space at the table. I want everyone to see that General Conference is that place where we come together to talk out our differences of opinion, not just fight across the aisles. The Spirit moves at General Conference, so long as we make the space for the Spirit to move in us & through us, even when we are tired of hearing a thousand points of order and information.
We claim to be a church of open hearts, open minds, and open doors. How about open ears? Can we truly listen & be in dialogue with one another? I think we can. I think Christian conferencing can prevail when we leave our prejudices and preconceived notions at the door & truly open our hearts to whatever changes God has in store. While this experience was trying, I am proud of my church, my delegation, and my kinship in Christ who came to the table in conversation and in love.