What I Learned at Conference

While attending the Methodist Annual Conference in June, I realized that polarization was not only in our nation but also in our churches and Conference. The definition of polarization is: a division into two sharply contrasting groups or set of opinions or beliefs. It was obvious and sad for me to see the polarization within our Conference on the “Way Forward” issue (to consider taking the homosexual text out of our Methodist Discipline) and our country’s “political issues.” The really sad part is the way we are dealing with each other over our differences.

Karon Mann, our Conference Laity Leader, began her talk with us on Sunday at the Annual Conference by saying this was a hard time for the Methodist Church. She had lost some special people in her life during the last year. After her attendance at the last General Conference she was thinking she didn’t want to have her Laity Leader job any more. But Karon began to feel she was called to stay through these difficult times. Karon called on all of us to “Love— not merely tolerate others.” Who are the others? Some she listed include…

  • immigrants
  • those of different races and ethnicities
  • also those in our own church who have different opinions than ours.

And, I am sure all of us could list more people in our lives and/or at work that we should add.

Bishop Mueller stated in his address that we have made Jesus our mascot instead of our Messiah. We believe Jesus is on our team and that He believes like we do. What a concept on which we may need to contemplate.

Bishop Mueller had a great idea when he suggested a “Snarky Jar” at Annual Conference. What a great idea it would be for Jacksonville First United Methodist Church to have our own “Snarky Jar.” We would not need any more fundraisers or have any money problems again.   Church members would put $5 (or more) in the Church’s “Snarky Jar” when we make snarky comments about “others” or “political issues” with which we don’t agree. We could really make some money if we would deposit $5 (or more) in the Jar even if we just had a snarky thought. Oh my! Can you imagine the money we could make if we deposited money for even thinking “snarky.”

What’s the real idea of the “Snarky Jar”? There might be another good result that could happen beside the collection of money. Maybe we would become more aware of our attitude and negative words and thoughts. We aren’t perfect but maybe we would become more like the people Jesus wants us to be. We might be more concerned about being and making disciples and loving God and our neighbors.

Love and Blessings

Carolyn Gray

Conference Delegate

PS   Ooops! Where’s the jar? I need to put in my money.