The Bishop's Task Force met on Monday, October 28 in Sun Prairie. The meeting began with prayer and devotions based off images around wilderness, dry land, and the ability of flowers still blooming in this environment. One area of scripture reflection was on Isaiah 35:1-2a which says, "The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing." This scripture is one of hope that even in the wilderness and in the dry dessert, God is able to go beyond all expectations to empower flowers to not only break forth in the dry soil, but allow the flowers to bloom and prosper. Remember this Good News!
Discussion reflected upon previous work done by two members on reviewing what other United Methodist Conferences were working on with their respective Task Force Teams that were created over the past year. The focus as of now was on the North Central Jurisdiction which includes Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio. It would be of benefit to particularly explore Minnesota's work which is explained on their Conference Website as they are the most active task force.
In addition to this work, the task force reviewed some of the GCORR videos from the Vital Conversations Series on White Fragility and issues of indigenous peoples. These resources would be of benefit for all United Methodist congregations to study and use in worship or Bible Study reflections. To find these resources go to http://www.gcorr.org/vital-conversations-video-series/. If we are going to be an inclusive church, we must go beyond human sexuality. We are living in a time of white supremacy, racism, race and gender inequalities. The United Methodist teachings not only encourage such dialogue to love God and neighbor but demand social justice for all people of all statuses.
Future action of the task force includes further work being offered around more tangible and practical resources for local congregations to help continue conversation around human sexuality (which goes beyond the topic of homosexuality). Such resources will include but are not limited to a study guide to be used in each congregation to engage on the topic that helps us all understand what happened at General Conference 2019, what are the expectations of January 1, 2020 living out the actions of General Conference 2019, and what are our hopes and dreams going way beyond General Conference 2020.
This was an excellent meeting on open dialogue around human sexuality, religion and race. Our hope as a task force is to further guide and support our conference in complex days, and even uncertain days as being a United Methodist in 2019 and beyond. Please look for more reflections from the task force in upcoming emails.