Since the Global Methodist Church has launched and begun holding convening conferences, I believe now is an excellent time to give predictions of what I believe may be in store for the GMC. I fully and freely admit that these are my hot takes and may or may not come true. Perhaps I should remind myself to return to this post in a year or two and see how accurate my predictions are.
LGBTQ+ Inclusion Will Become a Debate
I will give the GMC until their second General Conference before LGBTQ+ inclusion becomes a debate for them. For the people who say, “But this won’t happen,” well, as we say back home, “hide and watch.” It will. A small but vocal faction will bring this up, and the topic of ordination and wedding rites for LGBTQ+ persons will happen. Carve it in stone. It will happen. Why am I so confident? I’ve talked with pastors going to the GMC who believe this will happen. If they’re saying it, I’m pretty confident in this prediction.
The Ordination of Women Will Be Challenged
This is another area where I’m told there won’t be any challenges. I believe the one who believes the ordination of women won’t be challenged is either naive or hasn’t been paying attention. I’ve spoken with several clergy persons heading to the GMC who have all made similar statements: “I would never go to a church that wouldn’t allow my daughter to be ordained.” I believe them. However, I also know that the laity tends to be more conservative than the clergy. I know many of the laity – including women – who do not and never have supported the licensing and ordination of women as clergy. And, yes, I know there are clergy who do not support the ordination and licensing of women. I believe the ordination of women will be challenged very early in the life of the GMC, possibly at their opening General Conference.
Small and Rural Churches Will Be Second Class
Many folks who make up small and/or rural churches in the UMC believe they are second-class and do not receive the attention they should. I acknowledge that this does happen. Small and rural churches often receive pastoral appointments that are terrible fits. People in small/rural churches often believe they are asked to pay apportionments and receive little to nothing. While I do my best to educate my people on how they benefit from mission shares and connectional giving, I understand why many feel this way. In my reviews of the GMC’s discipline and doctrine draft, I see a polity and clergy deployment system that favors the larger suburban and urban congregations more than the small/rural congregations that currently make up the majority of any given UMC annual conference (including – perhaps especially – my own). Small/rural congregations that decide to join the GMC will find themselves forgotten and ignored. At the same time, resources will be diverted to support existing larger congregations and the establishment of church plants in affluent and/or suburban areas.
What are your predictions for the Global Methodist Church?