Throughout General Conference, Holy Conferencing sessions have been held on critical issues facing the church. The Holy Conferencing sessions were designed to give delegates opportunities to be in dialogue with others of differing views. The last conferencing session, held on April 30, was a continental gathering that gave delegates from similar geographic regions an opportunity to reflect on four questions:
- What are advantages of being a worldwide church?
- What needs to be strengthened to maximized our fruitfulness & faithfulness?
- How can we honor each others’ differences while strengthening our unity?
- How can we move toward more equitable sharing of power & representation around the world?
In the Eurasia continental session the Rev. Sergei Nikolaev, from Central Russia annual conference, shared his thoughts on the last question. “You cannot require trust from other people. The only way to get trust is to give it first. And you have to be ready to be hurt because when you give trust, you open up [the possibility of [being] vulnerable; but that’s the only way forward. If everyone will start trusting and giving trust, then I think we’ll have trust for each other.”
Can members The United Methodist Church learn to trust one another? What are your thoughts on the reflection questions and Rev. Nikolaev’s comment?
Michelle Whittaker is the director of Communications and New Media for the General Board of Church and Society. She is a member of the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference and currently serves as the president of the National Black Staff Forum.