Words and A Wisdom

posted on February 21

Words and A Wisdom

“This will give you an opportunity to testify.
So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance;
for I will give you words and a wisdom…”

Luke 21:14-15

Without a doubt, the upcoming Special Session of General Conference has given us opportunities for healthy conversations. Over my thirty years in the local church, I have spent a lot of time discussing leadership, theology, renovations, Sunday School curriculum, staff changes, worship styles, and outreach events – but this is different. You likely feel the same. It requires more love, more kindness, more sensitivity.
We have come to a place in history and culture where conversations around human sexuality must not only be had, they must be worked through to the other side. Borrowing from our Moravian friends, we pursue “in essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, charity.” Even though these decisions do not affect our doctrinal standards, for some, they are “essentials.” For many, they are “non-essentials.” For many more, they are simply in that category of “all things” and charity would be most welcomed.   
Like most of us, I will not spend the next several days in St. Louis. I will admittedly have an eye on the live stream. My heart, however, will be in prayer. As you lead worship services this weekend all over our District, I ask you to budget deliberate extra time in prayer for all the delegates and their work. Ask for the Holy Spirit to guide and prompt. Ask for the delegates to be receptive to that Spirit.
Following General Conference, we will be sharing a lot of resources for interpretation, and perhaps even guidance to interpret “no decision yet.” Our Bishop and the heads of our WNCC delegation will reach out to us via video. I look forward to hearing their experiences, and I have had a great deal of trust in all those who represent our Conference in these matters. I helped elect them, and so did you. Our Bishop will visit us on Saturday, March 16 and we will have an opportunity to thank our own Northern Piedmont delegates for their extended work.
God always gives us an opportunity to tell God’s story, to testify. And this will be no exception. I pray that you will have not only “the peace that passes all understanding” to guard your hearts and minds (Philippians 4:7), you will also be soothed in knowing that God will give you “words and a wisdom” (Luke 21:15) to share with your congregations.
Be at peace, and know that many faithful servants have gone before us who have stood at the crossroads, just as we are now. Because of their strong leadership and sense of calm, the church’s message prevailed.  Why else have faith, if not to practice it? Why be a messenger of the Gospel, if not to offer a message of hope and love?  Don’t worry, God will give you words … and a wisdom. 
Yours in Christ,

Rev. Bev Coppley, Northern Piedmont District Superintendent