This post originally appeared on my Facebook (Facebook.com/j.lemastersmith on February 14, 2023).
Two questions that regularly come up are:
1) Do we have to vote?
2) Do we have to have speakers from both sides come?
Short answer: no.
No one is required to vote. Voting is only required if you are strongly considering leaving the denomination. Just because one or two people have questions does not mean you need to move toward voting on anything. You definitely need to keep your congregation informed. It is a disservice to keep our congregations in the dark about this, because they will hear things in other places and get a lot of misinformation.
In terms of having other speakers come in, my fear is that the other speakers have consistently been misleading and disruptive. Our conferences have people trained to come and speak to the reality of the issues, and are very honest. In fact, they are actually pretty hard on our denomination in regard to how we have have handled a lot of different things. They also share what the plans are in the future, which is to create a more transparent and cooperative appointment process. The denominational speakers also work to explain the ability for us to exist together even when we disagree about many things, not just human sexuality.
We can exist together and disagree, because we, as the author of 2 John writes:
“But now, dear [church], I ask you, not as though I were writing you a new commandment but one we have had from the beginning: let us love one another.” (v5)