GC2012: Where Do We Go From Here?

By Tim Tennant-Jayne, Affirmation Co-Spokeperson

General Conference 2012 is over. The delegates decided that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people are still unwanted in The United Methodist Church. Now many of us are asking, “What do we do now?” Let's be honest, the results of this year's voting were depressing. Disheartening also describes it. Frustrating. After all, we'd done so much work towards this Conference.

We felt sure that the number 40 would prevail and our years in the church wilderness would be over. Like hopeful sports fans, we wore our rainbow team colors and “tailgated” in the Tabernacle. Alas, it was not to be. We realize that God doesn't act in predictable ways. It has been 40 years since the “incompatible” phrase entered The Book of Discipline and it looks like that’s going to stay for at least 4 more.

And yet. And yet. As I write this one month after we left Tampa, I can see God's mighty Spirit moving. Yes, even in the good old UMC. The vote served to awaken many people to the hatred within those words and within our denomination. Several bishops joined us outside of the bar of the Conference. Some spoke out against the lack of love the conservatives voiced. By our actions of continuing love, we gave some moderate delegates and bishops the courage to act on their faith. The next day a sizable group of active (not just retired) bishops joined us to express support for clergy willing to perform weddings for all people. Since General Conference, faithful United Methodists in Iowa and elsewhere are publicly urging this church to truly Do No Harm.*

I look back at General Conference and I am proud that the Love Your Neighbor Coalition stopped General Conference sessions. After decades of facing ever worse and worse restrictions on our lives, we kept the delegates from making The Discipline anymore hateful. That's two sessions in a row we've held the line.

So, where do we go from here? That is probably the question I have heard the most since GC. That and the companion question of “Why should I stay?” Some folk may need to step back and take a break. Others may find God's Spirit leading them elsewhere. What is next for Affirmation? We head to the next
General Conference. We go on to Portland, OR. And we start now. Your Affirmation Council is beginning the work for 2016 now, in 2012. We are committed to continuing this effort.

As Holly Near and Meg Christian sang, we are “like drops of water falling on the stone, / splashing  breaking dispersing in air / Weaker than the stone by far but be aware that / As time goes by the rock will wear away.” Affirmation was born out of the desire to help The United Methodist Church know the truth of God's Love for all people. We will continue the effort we've begun. I invite you to continue walking this journey with us.

* The Called Out Editors have posted an item with a lot of the UMC news over the summer. Good things are happening, just not at the GC level. Read about it here.

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