After the Tampa United Methodist General Conference in the spring of 2012, and following similar, later spring and summer events and conferences, I set aside several months for reflection and, then, some time for conversation with many of you. Again I thank you for your commiseration and consideration. More than 30 of you, lay and clergy, offered your prayers, time and thoughts. My hope was to try to see a way forward, given what condition our denominational condition is in.
I had then thought perhaps to try to gather a circle for further conference here in Boston, this past spring, 2013. Events in Boston this spring conspired to change the scheduling of this conversation. But I do invite you, should you have interest, to respond with 200 word meditations, prayers, hymns or other similar reflections to the events of the past year in our beloved church, to continue our shared conversation, our chance to confer with one another. Needless to say, these responses would be varied, freely offered, heartfelt, personal, in agreement, in dialogue, in disagreement, in affirmation, in rejection, in pity, in befuddlement or in wonder. Say whatever you like, if you would like (in 200 words)! Send these to email@example.com.
Some food for thought might be found in the following various writings of my own: a statement on the future of Methodism (And Are We Yet Alive: Methodism 2013); a book on Signs of Hope in United Methodism (Signs of Hope); a sermon on the guaranteed appointment (Servants of the Word); a homily following Tampa (Unfinished Grace); a sermon following annual conference 2013 (A Touch of Grace).
Our tentative plan is that on May 22, 2014, at 10am, following and preceding the singing of hymns, the meditations will be read here in Marsh Chapel, and later, if you would like, posted online (Marsh Chapel). (At Marsh we recognize May 24, Aldersgate Day, on or near the date, in some way, each year—this online conversation and following Boston gathering will be an approach toward it for this next year).
The venerable, spare words of the Apostle to the Gentiles stay with us: Hope that is seen is not hope. Who hopes for what he sees? We hope for what we do not see, and so wait for it with patience (Rom. 8:24)
Grace and peace,
Rev. Dr. Robert Allan Hill
Dean, Marsh Chapel
Professor, New Testament and Pastoral Theology
Chaplain to the University, Office of Religious Life