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INSIDE THE BAR: Gordon Grigg


Gordon Grigg, a young adult lay reserve delegate, shares his experiences as a first-time delegate and how General Conference is giving young people a voice.

Lay Reserve Delegate, Ishpeming: Wesley UMC

I’m not going to lie. Coming to General Conference for the first time and as a young person is a lot. I wasn’t 100% sure what to expect. I have heard stories, but you never fully understand the scope of General Conference until you go.

A lot happens, from worship to legislative committee meetings, plenary sessions, and other events. During my time here, I have loved the worship services. The bishops who preach are leaving no crumbs behind. They are preaching things that are generally not preached, which gives hope to a young person. Where the church has been silent, the bishops are making noise, calling out the injustices that the church has fostered or turned a blind eye to over the years.

I enjoy the fact that young people were not just invited to General Conference but allowed to have a voice, and there was a Young People’s Address last week. This was to let the church know that we young people are still here in the church, watching and listening to everything the church is doing. We are watching the deconstruction of churches, both figuratively and physically. The church was reminded that they are our role models, the ones we look to for advice, the ones we look to for guidance.

To stop the division in the church, we need to start coming together as one united church. In conversations I have had with other delegates, this General Conference has felt different than those before it. There is a sense that we are stepping in the correct direction of becoming one united church. We are entering into our new era.

General Conference is about more than networking and outstanding worship services. It is also about getting down to business and getting the work done as a church. I was privileged to sit on the Church and Society 1 Legislative Committee, where we worked through our part of the Revised Social Principles.

From where I sit as a reserved delegate in the observer section, I can see what’s going on behind the voting bar. When I get a glimpse of the bishops on the stage from the viewing screen, I see all the church represented, not just a few of the ones who have been attending General Conference before I was born. I see the whole church. The seats are filled with diverse people from different central conferences, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, genders, and ages.

This diversity shows us young people that this church — The United Methodist Church — is diverse. We see the diversity by having ten different languages being interpreted for our delegates. This is also a conference of grace since we are all coming together from across the globe. We have shown each other grace when trying to find the correct parliamentary wording or words that will translate well — showing each other and the world that we can be civil.

As a young person, I have hope based on what I have seen so far. We have worked to make the church more inclusive by starting to remove harmful language in the Book of Discipline against LGBTQIA persons, working towards regionalization, and revising our Social Principles. We have seen history being made as we start becoming a united church.

I know that the legislation passed at General Conference will not fix the mistakes of the past or mend broken relationships. We must do that when we leave the Charlotte Convention Center on Friday. We need to go back to the places we came from and be the loving church we are working to become. We can point to the legislation we passed and say we are working on becoming better. It is a slow process, and we will not fix all our problems at once, but we are working toward that goal. But until we live it out in person, the legislation we pass is just words on a page that we ignore. In The United Methodist Church, I can see that, slowly, we are becoming God’s church.

Last Updated on May 2, 2024

The Michigan Conference