Words from a Bishop: We are all holy and beloved

Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball preaches during a session of the West Virginia Annual Conference.

 Holy. Beloved. Valuable.

These are the words Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball wants delegates to remember about themselves as they enter the final days of the 2016 General Conference of The United Methodist Church.

“I see each person first as a child of God,” she said. “We are gifts to one another.” The bishop shared her thoughts Wednesday afternoon about “The Way Forward,” a plan presented by the Council of Bishops in response to several pleas from delegates for help from their episcopal leaders, who serve as the spiritual leaders of the denomination.

This General Conference has been marked by acrimony and an atmosphere of distrust. Voting guides for delegates, demonstrations, and rumors of a church split have heightened tensions over the United Methodist Church’s 40-year debate on human sexuality.

The bishops have not been unaffected by the pain experienced by delegates and observers this week. Bishop Bruce Ough acknowledged Tuesday he and his colleagues on the council were “broken-hearted” over the deep divisions the debate on human sexuality have revealed.

“Our broken hearts, and a profound clarity that we, as your bishops, are charged with the spiritual and temporal oversight of the church, have driven us to our knees in prayer and into intense, holy conversations with ourselves and others as we have been considering how to maintain unity and bring healing to the church,” said Ough

Steiner Ball agreed. “The bishops never talked about split or schism,” she said.  “We wanted to issue a clear statement about the unity of the church.”

She believes that the recognition of one another as holy and beloved is key to moving forward. The process begins, she said, by “humbling ourselves before God…and not just before God, but humbling ourselves before one another.”

“What we brought to the floor was a call to get to know one another and build relationships,” she said. “So that we can know one another as people, not issues.” We are each, all of us, created in God’s image, filled with different gifts. God created us to be in community together,” she said.

Listen to the interview with Bishop Steiner Ball:

Laura Harbert Allen, Managing Editor

Laura is an independent public radio and multimedia producer who makes stories in the documentary tradition. She served as communications director for the West Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church for seven years and has more than 20 years experience in public radio as an announcer, producer, program director, and general manager. She has also written about music for the Charleston Gazette-Mail, and done feature work for Wonderful West Virginia Magazine. Laura is married to the Rev. Jeff Allen. They live in Charleston, West Virginia.

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The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
 
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Richard F Hicks

All are beloved but all are not “holy.” “Holy” means set apart. Jesus responded “Why do you call me good. There is none good, no not one.” It works for “holy” as well. Why do you call me holy. There is none holy. No not one. Words such as holy, good, called stroke our egos with “I’m special.” Christ calls us to wash the dust, urine, & feces off of the feet of the least, the last, the lost. Jesus said, “Take up YOUR cross and follow me.” He might have added “I said your cross not mine. I’m not… Read more »

Scott
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Scott

Wouldn’t it be nice to hear a bishop actually stand up and affirm holy scripture in a loving, but non-wavering way, rather than simply present another feel-good, can’t-we-all-just-get-along, speech? That, to me, would be real leadership.

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guest

Hey! More words, how nice. Words that Africa and Asia will agree with, right up until you ask them to make a change. . .
How… useless.

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