Everyone had been abuzz with the things going down at General Conference 2012. I feel like Chicken Little - people are declaring that the sky is falling! Well, at least in my neck of the woods. They were tweeting and twittering about Episcopal term limits – which did not pass. They were a twittering and tweeting about Guaranteed Appointments – which went away. They have been aghast with the debates about God’s love being extended to all people - yes, even non-Christians.
And I just think about Ecclesiastes – there is nothing really new under the sun. I think that the debates about God’s Love have been around for a very long time (maybe 2000 years) and the discussions about Guaranteed Appointments for at least a century.
I understand that the language about every pastor getting a church goes back to the 1912 Discipline. I would love to get my hands on a copy and read the language for myself, but I know that idea of the covenantal promise of every preacher getting an appointment is from the 1956 Discipline. I’m going to say something here: the world is different now that it was in 1912 and 1956. In 1912, women didn’t have the vote. In 1956, people of color and women couldn’t dream of making the same salary as a man. I remember my mother telling me of her struggles of making 2/3rds of the men she was working with in the 1960’s.
But we live in a different world. Society has changed. So – we change as well. The sky is not going to fall down and the world is not going to end. Life as an ordained elder might change, but the optimist in me tells me that it could possibly be for the better - if we have faith in God being in control.
Every generation has encountered change and the one constant is that – everything changes. Each generation has hit speed bumps and the church has reacted. Some times we weathered the speed bump well and sometimes we got a flat tire. It happens. It’s the nature of life.
Am I concerned with the future of my denomination? Of course I am! However something in me tells me that I need to be more concerned with the Gospel of Christ and telling everyone of the love that God has for them. That I need to be more concerned with my own spiritual life and my own sanctification and movement to God’s perfection than with “is my job going to be here in a few years.”
The end of Guaranteed Appointments is going to be an adjustment for us. People might lose their jobs; some might lose them unfairly. I hope not. I hope that our church is one of integrity and fairness. I pray that our cabinets, Bishops and boards are where I am – concerned with the transmission of the Gospel to a hurting world. And I actually have faith that they do.