If I had to make a guess, I’d say that most of the good folks in our church are not aware of the non-binding straw poll that was take at annual conference last week. Following the 2019 General Conference, the leadership team of the Michigan Annual Conference (MAC) wanted to get a better sense about where the people in our conference stand in regard to the matter of whether or not to allow clergy to perform same-sex weddings and ordain self-avowed, practicing homosexual persons. The quickest pathway to getting this information would be to take a poll during annual conference.
Here is the wording of the poll in its entirety:
“If the Michigan Conference of The United Methodist Church were offered the opportunity to choose a direction for its future, should that direction be: (1) a United Methodist Conference whose policies allow for but do not require clergy to officiate at same-gender weddings, allow for consideration for ordained ministry of persons regardless of sexual orientation, and in which appointments are made with consideration given to the full range of contextual realities; or (2) a United Methodist Conference whose policies include the current Book of Discipline language on “homosexuality,” same gender marriage and LGBTQIA+ ordination along with enhanced enforcement of these policies determined constitutional by the Judicial Council.”
Delegates chose either option #1 or option #2. There was no discussion and no debate. Just a “vote.” The result was of those present at the 2019 session of annual conference, 69% favored option 1, and 39% favored option 2. To be very clear, this was NOT a vote to officially move in that direction. It was an expression of the direction those present would move in if they had the choice.
I’ve been asked how I feel about conducting a similar poll within our congregation, as some churches have done. In all honesty, I do not favor polling our congregation on this question, and for one simple reason: there is nothing constructive we can do with the garnered information. I’m not anxious about what the results might be or sticking my head in the sand. I’m simply unclear about what we would actually do with what we learned. In fact, if anything, taking such a poll would probably only create further divisiveness.
Will there come a day when we might have to conduct such a poll? Maybe. But we’re certainly not there yet. Right now we’re focused on implementing a vision to transform and heal human relationships right here in Adrian, and doing that doesn’t require knowing who in our church supports option #1 or #2. For the time being, let’s stay focused on doing our best to develop followers of Jesus Christ.