So What’s Next?

Early Spring in Raleigh

The uproar following the Special Session of the General Conference of the United Methodist Church has not subsided. The discussion has become more widespread and more heated both within the church and the media. Speculation is rampant, and at this point no one knows what the results will be. If I were placing bets, I would conclude that the Methodists eventually will split like the Presbyterians and Episcopalians did. I’m not in the political hierarchy of the church, in fact, I’m not even a member anymore so my opinion counts for very little.

On March 28th, Sacred Witness NC hosted a rally at the headquarters of the North Carolina Conference of the UMC to receive a petition signed by 1,300+ people opposing the Traditional Plan. Several hundred people heard a dozen or so speakers address their personal concerns, including the Bishop. It was indicative of similar actions across the nation as supporters of the Reconciling Ministries Network have risen up to express their concerns.

For the first time in years, I feel at peace and no longer in conflict with my church. I’m on the outside looking in: an interested observer but nothing more. I do not suggest that approach for anyone else. It simply was my decision for my personal physical and mental health

As for me, I’ve moved on to other things. I’m still involved with my local congregation and planning for an upcoming BBQ dinner. I’m slowly phasing out of RUM-NC and will miss Annual Conference for the first time in several years, I’m becoming more involved with the North Carolina Council of Churches. They have several initiatives that are of interest to me. They’re involved in discussions about immigration and gun violence. These long-festering issues are coming to a head in North Carolina, and the General Assembly is being pressured to take some action. I attended their legislative workshop at North Raleigh UMC.

We have more than enough local issues to deal with. The Mayor of Raleigh has announced that after a decade she has decided not to run again. Early reports predict a contentious campaign.

The regional transit authority, Go Triangle, has announced that it is abandoning the light rail project that had been in the works for a decade. The plan was opposed by Duke University and the NC General Assembly, and that effectively cut off state and federal funding. I expect that the lack of any plan will hurt future development in Durham and Chapel Hill for another decade as we continue to fail to cope with the rapid growth in population. Raleigh already was 20 years behind when it abandoned the Special Transit Advisory Commission (STAC) plan. We just don’t have the leadership in the state that politically supports public transportation. Charlotte is the only example of success.

I don’t have the money to become actively involved in the upcoming 2020 elections and don’t have a strong interest in volunteering at the local level. It’s way too soon to sort out the Democratic candidates, and it’s not productive only to oppose Trump. I wish we limited campaigns to three months as some countries do. The lengthy campaigns have become a tiresome process for the candidates, who face more of an endurance contest rather than exchange of plans and ideas. The public also has to suffer months of negative campaign ads.

Driving home from lunch recently, I passed miles of flowering trees in full bloom with a variety of colors, and the beauty stuck me emotionally. For a fleeting moment I felt happy.