by Mistead Sai
I am the Young Adult Coordinator for Conferences for the Common Witness Coalition. What I observed in this 2012 General Conference is the politics of religion. The General Conference has democratic formalities. I feel that much of the Conference is structured like the U.S. Congress. My observation at the Conferences Committee meeting is one of lighter and somber tone compared to other committees. It involves petition, second motions, and votes. I do not know how much of it is personal convictions over Christian doctrine and spirit-filled discernment about where God is leading us as the United Methodist Church.
Just recently, I was discussing with someone at the General Conference about the committee deliberations and she told me about the "Wesleyan Quadrilateral." Though I have been in the church since I was young, I had never heard about the Wesleyan Quadrilateral. The Wesleyan Quadrilateral applies methodological sources to theological conclusions. They are scripture, reason, tradition, and experience. I was amazed to discover that she herself had become a Methodist based on these guiding principles. I wonder if these principles are being applied at the Conferences Committee. I can only hope it is and have faith that Christ will lead us where he wants us to be as church.
Specifically, when it came to the Conferences committee, one of the petitions I can recall was in regards to equitable worldwide connection. The petition tried to make more equitable approach in structure and policy making. Unfortunately, people voted against it and then later struck it down. When one of the delegates motioned that it should be referred to a commission group for further discussion so the authors can explain their case for the petition, it was shot down. I question whether she did not receive the votes based on political agendas of the delegates.
I think as the increasingly global church, we must account for all and seek equality. We should apply those Wesleyan Quadrilateral principles to all matters and make united decisions into those efforts of equity and social justice rather than the politics of it all. This should be the definitive aspect of Wesley thought and the body of the United Methodist Church.
Mistead Sai is a senior Sociology major at the University of Maryland. He plans to work with non-profit organizations when he graduates. He is active with his United Methodist Campus Ministry and seeks to be more involved in church-related volunteering & service and pursuits for social justice in the near future on behalf of his faith.