Word from Winkler — Ups and downs

I am grateful God has given me the opportunity to serve the Church in a place where there’s never a dull day. That doesn’t mean there aren’t ups and downs, however.

Just yesterday, a determined minority blocked the U.S. Senate from taking very modest action to reduce gun violence. It was an emotional day for those of us who tried hard to help move the nation forward and save lives, but the Senate requires a supermajority of 60% of its members to get anything done. Consequently, it is forever tied in knots.

Perhaps the delegates think the U.S. Senate is a good example to follow?

The last supermajority was for less than a year in 2009, when Arlen Specter switched parties. Prior to that it had been decades since either party held a supermajority.

Sadly, the United Methodist General Conference, our denomination’s highest policy-setting body, adopted a rule change that will require a similar supermajority in 2016. Perhaps the delegates think the U.S. Senate is a good example to follow?

Other ups and downs

This past week has had other ups and downs. I interviewed three amazing, talented young adults for a job opening here at GBCS. Their faith, skills, commitment and excitement give me hope for the future.

On the other hand, I spoke to a local church member who is proud of the wonderful ministry her congregation is involved in with immigrants: English as a second language, food and clothing aid, job training, etc. She lamented, though, that her pastor refuses to permit the congregation to do anything about deportations, discriminations and legislation that would assist immigrants. Her pastor, who is prominent in United Methodist circles, fears rocking the boat.

Her pastor, who is prominent in United Methodist circles, fears rocking the boat.

I participated in a new interagency task force focusing on human rights and investments. The task force will help our denomination clarify how we align our values with our money. The atmosphere was positive, great expertise was shared, a clear timeline was laid out, and all left convinced we can achieve something.

Irrelevant denomination

On the other hand, I spoke with a bishop who is convinced our denomination is irrelevant and that much of what we do is pointless.

One of the directors of GBCS, Richard Hearne from Texas wrote a beautiful reflection in The United Methodist Reporter describing how through his membership on the board he became good friends with another director, Amory Peck from Washington. As a result, Richard said he experienced a change of heart on previous negative opinions he held about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people.

On the other hand, I received a nasty and ignorant letter from a local church administrative council that included these words, “We celebrate that James Winkler has agreed not to continue serving our church in the leadership of this board.”

What a church: dizzying ups and downs or is that backs and forths?!

Letter to the Editor