As a global church it is important that we listen intently to Christians throughout the world. Often each of us can be insulated by our own cultural experience that we unconsciously, and sometimes with full awareness, see those of other cultures as not being as informed or aware. In this thoughtful call to discourse based on the recent international experience of the United Methodist Church, Dr. J. Derek McNeil provides guidance for all of us as a part of the global church.
He says, in part:
“In the wake of the UMC vote on Human Sexuality, I’ve become increasingly concerned that we are losing the capacity to see relationally and to hear each other beyond social categories. I have noticed a familiar tendency, in what started as an international vote concerning a global denomination is turned into a particularly American discussion—universalizing themes and inflections that are firmly located in our national political, religious, and social discourse. This shortchanges our understanding of the complexity of our human discourse and limits our ability to listen deeply.
To raise this point is not to intellectually diminish the real rejection and pain felt across the UMC denomination. The voices in this discourse matter, and I pray that we continue listening to the stories and honor the tears of those who have felt harmed and isolated by this vote, who have experienced the last few weeks as the deepening of an old wound. And may we also remember that there are voices—beyond and within our borders—who do not easily fall into the familiar categories and talking points of our national discourse.