UMC in a Time of Transition
As I experienced February’s Special General Conference, it became clear that our denomination is divided regarding full inclusion of LBGQI+ persons. As I read people’s responses and reflected upon what happened at General Conference, it seems to me that our UMC denomination is in the midst of a major change/transition process.
A transition is defined as “a passage from one place or stage to another.” In other words; we are moving from what has been towards what will be. William Bridges in his book Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes
looks at life changes as a process of endings followed by confusion leading to new beginnings. Below is a brief description of Bridges’ transition process:
- Transition always begins with an ending. Endings are the first part of the natural pattern of dying, chaos and renewal that is present in God’s universe. Endings are a clearing process that prepares for growth and development.
- The next phase is referred as the neutral zone. This is a true “in-between” time; between the death of the past and the birth of the future. There is a general sense of emptiness and a feeling of sorrow. This is an important transformative time of inner growth as the old life/structure is dismantled and an image of the new life/structure is constructed.
- Moving into a genuine Beginning. There is a sense of resonance and a renewal of energy as deep longings become realized with outward action. There is strong motivation and compulsion to get started.
All of the above takes time, effort and energy.
As with all changes and transitions; the grief process is also activated. We are grieving something that has been important to us and is now lost. At the basic level, grief during transition includes: 1) Anger and depression; 2) Bargaining and negotiating; 3) Acceptance and cooperation. In order to get to the new beginning we need to emotionally deal with the ending.
We also need to remember that our laity and clergy persons within our churches and conferences are at different places within this process. Please be gentle with each other. Listen. Be present. Let God do God’s work. God isn’t finished with us yet.
Kae Tritle, RN