Some are concerned that the Council of Bishops is grabbing for power, through the call for a "set-aside bishop." Others are sure that there is a conspiracy among tall-steeple and megachurch types to dominate the agenda for "metrics" and accountability, while destroying the general agencies. It appears that the tensions around human sexuality and some other personal-social issues have been diverted underground for a time, but we know it will be a "big one." The elephants are gathering.
And here we are, the United Methodist Rural Fellowship, with an appeal to all to be mindful of "the grass" – the small, the few, the sparse, the silent, the vulnerable. Please remember that the need for vitalization and revitalization is a pressing need among us all, and that the approach to these can only be effective if it is contextually relevant. While many delegates have some personal connection with rural contexts, it is often historical, or ancestral, or superficial and brief. The changes and challenges of town and country ministry call for current awareness, engagement, and innovation.
As a "rural guy", I confess to real ambivalence about the General Conference process. In my low times, I wonder if it will make any difference at all, regardless of what action it takes. I know it can make life in local church and district complicated. The trumpeting, pushing and shoving seem so far away, and yet we have to deal with the aftermath of policy and polity. But on my better days, I remember that faithful people of good will bear in mind the pressing needs of congregations in every place. Can we join together in that hope?