The Real Elephant in the Room: Pensions vs. Suicidal Children
This article first appeared on the Reconciling Ministries Network website.
My wife Diane and I recently went to the Missouri Annual Conference. We were there to participate on an LGBTQ+ panel hosted by Missouri’s RMN coordinator, Trish Gunby. Stepping onto the conference floor for the first time was an awe-inspiring experience for two Methodist newbies. Over 1,000 attendees sat at tables in rows facing the stage with large screens displaying PowerPoint slides and speaker close-ups. As motions came from the floor, Bishop Farr turned to an attorney behind him before responding. It was highly organized and business-like; reminiscent of a megacorp’s stockholder meeting.
On Friday afternoon Bishop Farr spoke about A Way Forward. He joked about the elephant in the room as a cartoon pachyderm appeared on the screen. Farr warned we should all be prepared for disappointment because no one is going to get what they want. He expressed his disappointment at the level of vitriol the Bishops themselves have exhibited.
Farr continued on to say we are facing multiple moral challenges, because elderly people in nursing homes rely on UMC pensions to simply live. He warned that churches leaving the UMC could create a pension crisis, and that these people could be at financial jeopardy. Farr closed with an impassioned plea about unity, offering to barnstorm the state to try to keep the UMC together.
I was moved by the thought of the elderly retired servants of God, many of whom don’t even know all the brouhaha is underway. I was moved by his passion. But those emotions were nothing compared to what came the following afternoon.