The UMC Rift: Faithfulness in Divided Times
A Special Session of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church took place February 23-26, 2019 in St. Louis, Missouri. The purpose was to act on a report from the Commission on a Way Forward, authorized to examine paragraphs in The Book of Discipline concerning human sexuality and to explore options to strengthen church unity. The vote surprised many people. The Conference rejected the One Church Plan proposed by the bishops and voted 55/45 for the Traditional Plan. This decision retains the current language prohibiting same sex marriage and the ordination of LGBTQ persons. Further action may occur in January 2020, although that is not certain. Meanwhile, as various groups despair or rejoice, there is a feeling of uncertainty and anxiety across congregations.
Let's Get Started!
Living Room Conversations offers a simple, sociable and structured way to practice communicating across differences while building understanding and relationships. Typically, 4-6 people meet in person or by video call for about 90 minutes to listen to and be heard by others on one of our nearly 100 topics. Rather than debating or convincing others, we take turns talking to share, learn, and be curious. No preparation is required, though background links with balanced views are available on some topic pages online. Anyone can host using these italicized instructions. Hosts also participate.
Why We're Here (~10 min)
Share your name, where you live, what drew you here, and if this is your first conversation.
How We'll Engage (~5 min)
These will set the tone of our conversation; participants may volunteer to take turns reading them aloud. (Click here for the full conversation agreements.)
- Be curious and listen to understand.
- Show respect and suspend judgment.
- Note any common ground as well as any differences.
- Be authentic and welcome that from others.
- Be purposeful and to the point.
- Own and guide the conversation.
What We’ll Talk About
Optional: a participant can keep track of time and gently let people know when their time has elapsed.
Getting to Know Each Other (~10 min)
Each participant can take 1-2 minutes to answer one of these questions:
- What are your hopes and concerns for your community and/or the country?
- What would your best friend say about who you are and what inspires you?
- What sense of purpose / mission / duty guides you in your life?
The UMC Rift: Faithfulness in Divided Times (~40 min)
One participant can volunteer to read the paragraph at the top of the web page.
Take ~2 minutes each to answer a question below without interruption or crosstalk.
- What concerns or hopes did you have leading up to General Conference? What feelings and emotions were associated with those concerns and hopes?
- What life experiences brought you to your opinion on this topic (recognizing the way we read and interpret scripture is a unique and personal experience)?
- What is this time of uncertainty like for you?
- What is your prayer for The United Methodist Church and for our congregation and community?
- If you were creating an agenda to unite our faith community, what would be on it?
- How do we maintain dignity and loving kindness in our relationships and connections to each other if we have varying beliefs and opinions about this situation? How can we resist the temptation to “otherize” and judge each other harshly?
Reflecting on the Conversation (~15 min)
Take 2 minutes to answer one of the following questions:
- In one sentence, share what was most meaningful or valuable to you in the experience of this Living Room Conversation?
- What new understanding or common ground did you find within this topic?
- Has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group, including yourself?
- Name one important thing that was accomplished here.
- Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation you just had?