General Conference Episcopal Address: Call for Humility by Bishop Palmer #UMCGC

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Additional Resources

You can download the study guide created for this video here: GC2016 Bishop Palmer Study Guide

Study Guide

For leaders: Allow a minimum of one hour for this study. If there are more than 10 people in the group, divide the group into small work teams to tackle the questions and report from the group.

View the video alone or in your group, then work as a group to discuss the following questions:

1. In calling United Methodist Christians to humility, confession and prayer, Bishop Palmer lamented, “Our capacity to turn on each other is destroying the very soul of the church.” What are some examples of disagreements about theology, structure, governance and mission that, you believe, are hampering the church’s witness?

2. The bishop also pointed to signs of hope across the worldwide church, including money raised to fight malaria, the worldwide response to nature disasters through the United Methodist Committee on Relief, and expansion of ministries with those who are incarcerated. List some ways your congregation, conference, or ministry setting has made a positive impact outside the walls of the church in the past two years.

3. How might United Methodists who have differences and disagreements “find ways to have a new start with God and with one another?” In your own ministry setting, what might you do to open new conversations, risk discussion and study of controversial topics, and engage new people in Bible study? Spend a few minutes discussing what kinds of people are NOT in your ministry setting and what your group would have to change or open up to engage them.

4. Bishop Palmer decried United Methodists engaging in “the politics of mutually assured self-destruction” specifically because of the way church people have handled conflict and disagreement. How might the church—from your congregation to the worldwide church—move forward together, even as we grapple with divisive issues?

5. Dig deeper, specifically about issues of human sexuality (LGBTQ and heterosexual), abortion, immigration and refugees, and how we deal with race, class, gender, and other forms of discrimination. Spend time talking about how United Methodists might continue to live together and be in ministry together, even if we do not agree on the above issues. What should our resolutions say? What might our policies say? Where might we allow flexibility?

6. The bishop declares, “Everyone here is a child of God. Hard stop! Period! End of discussion. Any behavior to the contrary undermines the Gospel.” How can we live this out amid people with whom we disagree and with Christians who may hold different understanding of Scripture and faithfulness?

7. What are ways that we can remind ourselves—and ways our leaders can remind us—that we are all created in the image of God and should be regarded as such? What does honoring that look like in our everyday interactions?

About

Bishop Palmer, who leads the Ohio West Area of The United Methodist Church, delivered this as the Episcopal Address to the 2016 General Conference on behalf of the denomination’s Council of Bishops.

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