I was baptized and raised United Methodist. I served as youth and lay delegate to annual conference and on the board of ordained ministry and conference communication commission. I’ve worked for United Methodist Women now for two General Conferences. I thought I had an idea of what General Conference would be like in person.
Clearly, I believe in our church. I believe in the good our church believes itself capable of. I believe in the human capacity for love that Jesus showed. I believe the church must and can lead with love. I also know the church is made up of human beings—a flawed set of human beings striving for justice and joy.
I felt the Holy Spirit at General Conference: in worship, in the work of colleagues, in hallway conversations and late-night dinners, in voices of rally and vigil participants, in the hugs of friends. I especially felt it during United Methodist Women’s deaconess and home missioner consecration and our 150th anniversary celebration. I even, sometimes, felt it from the plenary floor.
I also felt disappointment and pain in a way I was not prepared to feel. The obvious Spirit-filled moments at General Conference made the Spirit-lacking moments especially empty. The manipulation of both the system and people and the intentional spreading of misinformation were heartbreaking—even to this grown woman with a sense of “how the world works.” I just couldn’t help believing the Church could and would work differently.
As you’ll read about in this issue, women and girls were left behind at General Conference. The disappointment, for me, still runs soul-deep. But that’s why we are here, we women organized for mission. Our church can find a way forward. Please join me in this belief, this truth that our church is capable of transforming the world in a way that leads to thriving lives for all people.