June 20, 2024 How to Love Your Neighbor: Reflections from the UMC’s 2024 General Conference

Mittie Quinn, beloved long-time member of Dumbarton UMC and outspoken ally for full LGBTQIA+ inclusion in our denomination, reflected on how she felt in the lead up to and during the UMC’s recent 2024 General Conference. We are so grateful for Mittie’s years spent advocating for the removal of harmful language and policies from the Book of Discipline. We love this picture of her that was captured during the celebrations that took place in Charlotte, N.C. (PHOTO CREDIT: Joscelyne Cutchens) 

“General Conference Charlotte (sometimes referred to as the “postponed 2020 GC). . . Would it be more of the same? Perhaps. . .  765 delegates (of the 862 duly elected) from UMCs around the world, a distribution of races, genders, sexual orientation, clergy and laity were gathered in anticipation that something new might happen … And yet, I approached this one with the same fear and dread as every one I have attended since 2008.. Fort Worth, Tampa, Portland, St. Louis … but there was something different in the air this time.

I put all my energies and time into convening the Love Your Neighbor Coalition (LYNC), a group of organizations and individuals who aim to love our neighbors around the world and within our church, following John Wesley’s calls to do no harm, do good, and attend to the ordinances of God.

As the General Conference drew near, LYNC caucuses organized around several work areas: Communications, Global Relationships, and Witness and Hospitality. We pooled our resources and raised funds to:

  • hire a team of translators who could provide services during informal gatherings;
  • partner with the Charlotte District United Women in Faith to host an international craft market;
  • work with fellow centrists and progressives to follow legislation submitted and supported by our member organizations;
  • offer hospitality for those who needed safe space;
  • sponsor intercultural communication training;
  • welcome delegates as they arrived for sessions each morning;
  • host lunch speakers about the apology and act of repentance requested by the Hawaiian people; religious persecution in India; Murdered and Missing Indigenous Relatives ministry; offering public witness in public spaces; and Disability Theology;
  • partner with local Reconciling United Methodists to create welcoming space for R&R that included snacks, water, and multi-sensory activities intended to soothe;
  • launch a campaign of “Build it Together,” wearing bright colored t-shirts calling for collaboration in rebuilding the UMC, and handing out small bags of legos with a card encouraging folks to work together to build something;
  • represent LYNC and our various organizations at allied meetings and events;
  • create six different worship and fellowship events attended by hundreds of United Methodists over the course of two weeks;
  • staff a “Coalition Corner” in the Exhibit Hall where all of our member organizations were represented and partnered to be present to answer questions; and
  • provide daily communications via newsletter, volunteer updates, WhatsApp blasts, and social media platforms;

“So …! When asked for my reflections of General Conference Charlotte? For me, it was the viewpoint from Martha (Lazarus’ sister) faithfully attending to the household, making sure everyone was fed and welcomed, keeping an eye on Jesus so I knew what he was up to, sharing the Good News in a myriad of ways, and giving thanks and rejoicing that a 52-year nightmare of discrimination and hate has been undone.

“Let’s be the church we have been called to be. Alleluia!”