This morning I’m reminded again of the global nature of the Church. We gathered for worship here this morning with well known hymns and praise songs and were also led in worship in Kiswahili, a Native American language, and other languages including English. Simultaneously my own church family, Christ United in Mobile, AL was gathered for worship. I fired up our live stream on my phone so I could see them gathered together. All of us are worshiping the same God. Of course that is happening in every time zone around the globe. People worshiping God in spirit and in truth.
I remarked in a Facebook comment that the Spirit of this Conference already feels different than what I sensed at the General Conference in Portland in 2016. I’ve heard others say both verbally and online that they feel similarly. I was sort of dreading coming here, because I felt like the room would be heavy with anxiety and division. There is certainly plenty of that to go around here, however, there’s a Spirit of worship which feels good and right. The whole congregation here began to sing Siyahamba which is a South African hymn in the Zulu language. The English chorus goes like this: “We are marching in the light of God, we are marching in the light of God.” The whole group gathered was singing this at the top of their lungs. Many of our delegates in the bar of the Conference began singing and dancing. A conga line of sorts formed. Tears came to my eyes as I saw so much of what I love about the UMC in one view. God has done an amazing thing in the UMC. My tears were an emotion of appreciation for what God has done, but they were also tears of sadness of what we might lose here. There are some who believe that the worst thing that could happen here is the division of our church. I don’t think that would be the worst thing, but it would certainly a sad thing.
Today we begin “business.” The first Presiding Bishop, Bishop Christian Alsted, from the Nordic and Baltic Episcopal Area, reminded us that we are convening in what was once a football field, where teams battled one another to win. He said that we are not on a football field, we are now in a church. May God’s Spirit move in this place.