Petition 80152

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Being the Church (80152-FO-R32)

Replace existing Resolution #32, Being the Church Amid Disagreement, with the following resolution:

BEING THE CHURCH AMID DISAGREEMENT
As a people called United Methodists we often find ourselves in conflict with one another. Some of this conflict needs to be understood in light of those gifts from God that both connect us to one another and make us different from one another.  
  
The human family is one family because we are all God’s children. Yet the human family is divided by conflict. God has gathered those who recognize Jesus as savior into the Christian family. Yet the Christian family is divided by conflict. God has called many whose heart is as Wesley’s heart to join hands as a United Methodist family. Yet in conflict we United Methodists often raise our voices against one another.
  
In God’s wisdom we have been created with common connections and with individual differences – individual differences that inevitably develop into group differences.  God’s creation wisdom expressed in connections and differences makes conflict an unavoidable part of God’s plan for humanity. God created the precursors for conflict and gave humanity the freedom to use conflict for good or for ill. Conflict used constructively becomes the context out of which new possibilities emerge. Conflict used destructively harms individuals, relationships, and community thus harming and limiting the Kingdom of God on earth and in heaven.
  
John Wesley’s life and witness was wrought with conflict but Wesley’s spirit moved against conflict used divisively. One of the results of Wesley’s constructive use of conflict is that as United Methodists we find ourselves covering a much broader part of the theological spectrum than many denominations. Thus our differences are great and we are held together only God’s grace, grace that we point to as we proclaim “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors”.
  
Because of our God-given differences we United Methodists will always be faced with conflict, both actual and potential. In conflict we are confronted with many temptations:

  • Glorification of our own ideas, experiences, and perspectives
  • Vilification of the ideas, experiences, and perspectives of others
    • Avoidance of deep issues to maintain shallow calm

    • Misuse of power to avoid the turmoil that conflict brings to heart, mind, and community

    • Using on one’s own strength and wisdom to control rather than trusting the outcome to God
        
    Faithful conflict requires:

  • Recognizing that God creates community and differences
  • Recognizing that being touched by the Spirit will energize both our need for community and our need to value our differences
    • Recognizing that faithful use of conflict requires that we surrender into God’s hands both ourselves and the outcomes we hope for
        
    Approaches that help us grow in faithful use of conflict involve:

  • Listening to one another in respect
        o   Try to understand, from the perspective of the speaker, both the points being raised and the basic issues that the speaker is trying to address. This is part of the spiritual exercise of discernment.
            o   Withhold the formulation of your own reply until after attempting to understand the heart and mind of the other.
            

  • Expressing our passion to one another in ways that are respectful of both ourselves and the persons with whom we differ
        
    o   Refrain from personal attacks, especially judgmental proclamations of evil motives on the part of those who disagree with you.
            o   Express reason and emotion in ways that lift up issues for consideration rather than disparaging the points of those who differ.
      Eagerness to find ways to think and to act that build upon, but yet transcend, the deep wisdom and concern that the various participants bring to the conflict
        
    We as United Methodists risk spending our energies not for proclamation of the Gospel but in endless internal dissent. This risk is unavoidable because God has made us vulnerable to one another through our connections/kinship with one another and through our differences. Through grace and dedication this risk can be an opportunity to witness to Jesus Christ. God freely gives the grace and calls for our dedication.