General Conference 2016 has been filled with its share of conflict. From taking three days to decide whether or not we can listen to each other through Rule 44 to the continued pain experienced around inclusion and sexuality, there has been more than enough division. Following much of the conference on Twitter, the conversation often seems more like the debate of a political election year than the church.
However, while there is more to separate us, at our best we are the church.
Yesterday we celebrated how we, as a denomination, have worked to end malaria in Africa. We launched a new Global Health initiative to touch the lives of one million children. In the United States, churches are invited to serve as beacons of health in their communities.
This morning, 29 missionaries were commissioned in opening worship. Missionaries who will serve in Asia, Latin America, Africa, and the United States. Missionaries who will teach, provide health care, pastor, and give hope.
This is the church.
The church is not institutional maintenance or political division.
The church is found when we feed the hungry.
The church is found when we bring hope to refugees.
The church is found when an addicted person finds sobriety.The church is found in caring for the poor and needy.
The church is found when people live in to the vision of abundant life.
The church is found when we see Christ in one another.
The church is found when the good news is proclaimed, in our words and our actions.
Today, 29 people dedicated their lives to be the church, as a verb and not a noun, and said “Here I Am, Send Me”.
Today, this is the church.