Only a couple of days of General Conference have passed and already there have been examples of the contrasts that exist within the UMC. On the one hand there's the story of Katherine Commale:
Her mother, Lynda, agreed. Now age 7, Katherine has collected more than $40,000 to send insecticide-treated sleeping nets to Africa as part of the Nothing But Nets campaign, supported by the people of The United Methodist Church.
In a convention center arena filled with thousands of delegates and guests, Katherine told the 2008 United Methodist General Conference that she wants “everyone who needs one to have a bed net.”
The brown-eyed youngster was introduced April 24 as a sign of hope in a denomination besieged in recent decades with steady U.S. declines in the numbers of members, worship attendance, professions of faith and baptisms. In 2006, the average age of United Methodists was over age 50, while less than 4 percent of its clergy was under the age of 35.
“Thank you for being a witness, a model for the rest of us,” Bishop John Hopkins told Katherine on the assembly stage as the audience applauded. (UMNS)
On the other hand there's the story of Drew Phoenix.
Here we have stories about a child who has a vision far bigger than her years and an adult whose vision is a self-centered quest for "wholeness." One makes me want to stand up and cheer and the other hang my head and weep. One makes me think that the UMC has a future, the other that we are doomed as a denomination.
Let us pray that as GC goes forward we'll hear more stories like Katherine's and less like Drew's.