In what seems like a very long time ago, two friends, Grace and Knowledge met at a Christmas Conference in Baltimore. They hit it off right away despite their vast theological differences. There were and still are so many things they did not agree on but they both had a deep abiding love of God. So, as the Christmas Conference ended, they agreed to stay in touch with one another and pray for one another. They also promised to pray that the new Connection that was formed in Baltimore would move on to perfection.
Grace lived in the North and Knowledge lived in the South, so they did not see each other that often but they stayed in touch and prayed for one another just as they had promised to do. They cherished the moments they were able to be with each other even though they often fought. In the early days of their friendship most of their fights revolved around slavery. Knowledge owned slaves and justified his right to own slaves by quoting verse after verse after verse from the Bible.
Regardless of how many times they met and discussed why Knowledge should set his slaves free, he would not relent. This greatly distressed Grace especially since she believed Knowledge knew better.
Grace would remind Knowledge over and over again that we are all made in God’s image. She would also make it clear that God would not consider slavery a form of love. Perhaps, Knowledge knew that slaves were made in the image of God, but he was so blinded by his desire for power and wealth accumulation that he could not see a future without his slaves.
It also distressed Grace when some of the brothers and sisters they met at the Christmas Conference in Baltimore left the Connection because Knowledge and the people who thought like him refused to affirm the full humanity of African Americans.
And yet, Grace did not give up on her friendship with Knowledge. She kept praying that they would move on to perfection. But Knowledge and his friends dug in their heels and during a General Conference in Louisville they decided to split from the Connection over the issue of slavery.
It was a strained relationship, but Knowledge and Grace remained friends and continued to pray for one another even though they no longer belonged to the same Connection. Grace and Knowledge rarely saw one another anymore so they were both happy when their Connections reunited at a General Conference in Kansas City.
Nevertheless, Grace was still dismayed and disappointed because Knowledge remained hard-hearted. Knowledge refused to fully affirm African Americans even though he could no longer legally own slaves. But they kept praying for one another and praying the Connection would move on to perfection.
Grace finally confronted Knowledge about his unwillingness to fully affirm the humanity of women. She asked him, “Why don’t you support the ordination of women?” Once again, he cited various Bible verses to support his stance and he refused to soften his heart.
Finally, at a General Conference in Minneapolis women were granted full clergy rights which meant they could be ordained.
Later on at a General Conference in Dallas the Connection dissolved the Central Jurisdiction and at least in principle affirmed the full humanity of Black people. Grace and Knowledge seemed to be on the road to reconciliation until they saw one another at the General Conference in Atlanta ...
During this General Conference, Grace was pleased that the Connection affirmed the sacred worth of all human beings including homosexuals but she was dismayed and dumbfounded when Knowledge led a charge to relegate homosexuals to a status of less than by deeming their human sexuality as being incompatible with Christian teaching.
Once again, he quoted various Bible verses to justify his stance. Since that General Conference in Atlanta, the relationship between Grace and Knowledge has steadily drifted apart again. They still pray for one another and they still hope the Connection is moving towards perfection. But yet again, they are wondering if they should be a part of the same Connection given their vast theological differences.
This week they are attending a Special General Conference in St. Louis. Let us pray that regardless of the outcome that Love will win and the Connection will move on to perfection! Love.