Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Seminary ending

The following is a reflection I wrote for a contextual ed course at United. It depicts my feelings as I came closer and closer to graduation and the end of my seminary career. I hope that you all might be able to glean some inspiration and at lest some encouragement from this brief essay. Also included in this post are some pics of me at graduation.

This is it. My final week of Seminary! I preached this past Sunday about Pentecost and about the new way that God is moving in this world, “it’s end times type of stuff”, I said and truly it is, but in a sense so is this moment, a sort of academic eschaton. The Kingdom is here, it is now, the era of the past is over and the new age has been consummated. Ok, perhaps that’s a bit dramatic and over the top, but at times that how I have felt about seminary.
I’m thankful to be finished, I’m also a bit nervous. I spoke also directly to the graduates in both my churches; spoke to them about the newness that completing school can bring, but also the fear, doubt, concern and nervousness. There is also a bit of grief that I’m feeling. I’m a little bit sad and I’ll miss the community, I’ll miss the gathering weeks, it almost makes me want to do another degree just so I can remain part of the community, but like I said, ALMOST J.
I will miss seminary, after all it’s been a huge part of my life for the past 4 years. It’s like saying good bye to a girlfriend that your breaking up with after 4 years of being together, maybe even like a divorce, after all she (seminary) was with me early in the morning, late at night, on weekends and during holidays. I assume like some marriages or relationships we have simply grown a part. It’s time to move on...with love, respect and a bit of grief, but time to move on nonetheless. The week after I graduate my wife and I are going on vacation…ALONE!!! Something we have not done in yearsJ. It’s very much deserved for my wife. If seminary was like a girl I was in relationship with to me, it was like the “other women” to my wife. A selfish, controlling women, that tried her best to ruin our marriage. J Either way, its over and truth be told I might change where and how I went to seminary, but I’d never change the decision to go. And finally a prayer for all seminaries and seminarians:
“May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you: wherever he may send you;
May he guide you through the wilderness: protect you through the storm;
May he bring you home rejoicing: at the wonders he has shown you;
May he bring you home rejoicing: once again into our doors.” - Shane Claiborne


I'm sure by now many of you who are interested in this topic have already formulated an opinion about GC2012, that is, General Conference 2012 of the United Methodist Church, but I would like to give my personal take on the event.

First of all I'd like to say how much I appreciate our history and our tradition of Holy Conferencing, a tradition that has been part of Methodism from the beginning and continues in both United Methodist and all other traditions that have hailed from the Wesley movement over the last 300 years or so. It is a biblical and traditional way of entering into discernment as it pertains to the will of God. It is my belief that all of Methodism, especially United Methodism is as biblically sound a denomination as one will find in the world today (thats just my biased opinion).

With all that being said, I must admit, there was not much holy about this past General Conference. Most of is was an unholy mess of dissension, distrust and parinoia. It was United Methodism at it's worst and would have had both Bishop Asbury and Mr. Wesley rolling in their graves (as the old saying goes). The very thing we came together to accomplished we failed at. Our goal, if anything was to restructure our system so that it would be sustainable, well two weeks, four proposed changes and $8 million later...NOTHING! We are still as top heavy, over staffed and convoluted as ever and the real question is how much more can this aging dinosaur take?

The only thing that was accomplished was the revocation of the guaranteed appointement for all Elders in good standing, which was thought to be a measure taken to hold pastors accountable for their leadership practices, when in all reality it's not the pastors who need to be held accountable. It is the inept, ineffective and impotent Bishops, who are guaranteed life long appointments regardless to how lousy of leaders they may be. They are the ones who need to be held accountable and only elected and reappointed if they deserve to be. In the same breath I advocate for the bishops to be given more control and authority and freedom to lead. It was absolutely ridiculous that the Bishops were not give the set aside bishop to help facilitate more leadership in the conferences they are charged with.

I think the most annoying part of conference was the reconciling people. I support the discipline and what it teaches regarding homosexuality. I am more than annoyed with the Rev. Amy DeLong and all the gay right's people storming the General Conference floor ever 4 years and causing a disruption that cost time and money that we simply don't have. My suggestion to Rev. DeLong and all her friends is this, "I support you, I love you, I sympathize with you, but please stop!! If you can't tolerate the position of the church join the countless others who have left United Methodist for the United Church of Christ, where anything goes."

Ok, I understand this was a bit much, maybe to much, but what else is a person like me todo? I can;t change legislation...yet. I can hold any of the positions were these things are discussed...yet. So while I wait for my turn, I'll write, I'll speak out and I'll try my best to be faithful to God's call. I encourage you to do the same.