Many years ago, as I was driving through some backroads in Ashtabula County in the winter, I thought I caught a glimpse of a little girl standing at the end of a driveway all alone. I drove on for a bit, but the concern that there were no adults with her bothered me so much, that I turned around and went back. There was this little girl about 7 or 8 years old, standing at the end of her long gravel driveway, wearing a little pink coat, with a little pink suitcase at her feet. Those big wet snowflakes of early winter were falling all around her, and she was standing all alone. I pulled up and asked her if she was OK. She said, “Yes. I’m just waiting for my daddy to come pick me up.” At that moment, I knew the whole story. Her parents were estranged, and animosity was so great between them, that they could not be in each other’s presence.
I grew up in a United Methodist church in which a more orthodox un-derstanding of scripture was taught. Later in life, when I was called to ministry, I intentionally enrolled in a seminary that would expose me to thoughts and ideas different than what I had been taught. It was a won-derful experience. Being exposed to a wide continuum of thought and belief pushed me to examine what I believed, and why I believed it. My life has been richer because of it.
Since then, I have developed friendships with people all across the theological spectrum. There are people I deeply respect and admire on all sides. I’ve always looked for-ward to those events in which we all gather together in one room, when I can see my friends. Sometimes at those gatherings, we get into conversations in which we do not all agree, but we and the church we serve have become richer because of our differences.
It seems that we are moving toward a day as United Methodists when we will no longer be gathered in the same room. Animosity among the people I dearly love has grown so strong that they prefer to not be in each other’s presence anymore. Even so, I intend to maintain relation-ships with those I deeply respect and admire, regardless of where we might end up. I know that if I surround myself only with like-minded people, my life and faith will suffer.
I pray that this critical time in the life of our church will be an opportunity for God to enter in and work in ways we cannot orchestrate or imagine. God has moved and worked within the Wesleyan movement for centuries, as it has transformed and developed. This is not the end of the Wesleyan movement, but merely another iteration.
Canal District Office:
Rev. Ed Peterson
800 E. Market St.
Akron, OH 44305
Phone: (330) 252-0299
Fax: (330) 252-0297
Monday through Thursday
9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
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