I Won’t be Attending General Conference But . . . .

UM-General-Conference1920x485-1024x259I’m going to miss an important event in Methodist history–the called session of the General Conference in St. Louis, February 23-27.

A lot is at stake as delegates wrestle with ways to deal with the important matters of homosexuality and the interpretation of Scripture. The decisions made will chart the denomination’s future for decades.

Missing the conference makes me sad! I feel some guilt for my absence.  Although as a retired bishop I have no official duties,  I do feel responsible to be present in support of colleagues and delegates.

I know from previous General Conferences that significant things happen apart from the formal sessions. Old friendships are renewed and new ones formed. The vast diversity of the denomination is on full display.

Great music! Outstanding preaching! Challenging speeches! Profound worship!

I’ll miss all of that!

I must forego the experience. But, I’ll be pursuing my current primary vocational calling, care-partner for my wife of 57 years.

What I will be doing seems small and insignificant when compared to the history-making decisions. Nothing I will be doing will get publicity or make the history books.

I’ll be doing little things–holding Linda’s hand, combing her hair, feeding her, brushing her teeth, assuring her she isn’t alone, just sitting quietly as she sleeps.

There are important connections between what I’ll be doing and what’s happening in St. Louis.

We both will be doing sacred work!  Both will involve strong emotions, including grief and disappointment. God will be present with us!

Both have to do with what it means to love! Who to love! How to love! What it means to love faithfully, as Christ loves us!

Love isn’t an abstraction for me. She’s lying in the bed nearby, with her hand in mine. Love, in the final analysis, is an embodied practice rather than a pontifical pronouncement.

I hope love isn’t an abstraction in St. Louis. May it be embodied in

  • ears that listen attentively,
  • tongues that speak tenderly and truthfully,
  • hands that clasp and serve joyfully,
  • arms that embrace hospitably,
  • hearts that beat compassionately,
  • minds that exhibit the mind that was in Christ Jesus,
  • actions that manifest the breadth of God’s love and justice.

I won’t be trying to convince Linda that she is wrong, or less than, or inadequate, or sinful, or outside the norm.

Instead, I will be trying to empathetically enter her world, see the world as she is seeing it, assure her that she is valued amid her confusion, and loved unconditionally by God and by me.

I genuinely pray that what happens in St. Louis will be akin to what will be happening in our home, and in the countless homes across our world as people seek to love one another as Christ loves us, regardless of

  • race,
  • ethnicity,
  • political affiliations,
  • theological perspectives,
  • sexual orientation, or
  • physical and intellectual capacities.

I won’t be physically present in St. Louis, but I’ll be watching and praying. . . . and continuing to love!




44 thoughts on “I Won’t be Attending General Conference But . . . .

  1. Thanks , Ken, and yes, I am sorry you will not be there for your presence says worlds to all who know you, but I agree, you have chosen the road you need to take. I hope all of our prayers are with our delegates in St. Louis, and as you have said so many times, remembering that God is Love. MFT

    On Thu, Feb 14, 2019 at 7:20 AM Shifting Margins wrote:

    > kennethcarder posted: “I’m going to miss an important event in Methodist > history–the called session of the General Conference in St. Louis, > February 23-27. A lot is at stake as delegates wrestle with ways to deal > with the important matters of homosexuality and the interpretat” >


    • Bishop Ken. Katy was diagnosed with Alz in 2004. We have been married 55 yrs. Your days are very familiar to me.. I too consider this sacred work. Thank you for your words.Chaplain Ret Isabel Gomez

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Wesley Seminary friends,
      Blessings on you and your very special ministry at this time in your life. And we will all be praying for wisdom in St. Louis.
      Joe Scahill

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you Bishop Carder for sharing your heart of the Christian Disciple, the United Methodist, and the Human Being.

    I believe the Church, body of Jesus Christ runs by the Grace, not only by the law. The divine conferencing needs every parts of the body as the whole.

    Authority and power belong to the divinity, not to the humanity to privatize for their group’s sake. The church stands only in LOVE to fulfill the law as Jesus died on the cross. The church needs to stop burning the marginalized, witches and out-laws, rather embracing them as they wish to be healed.

    The any force to make any separation of the United body runs by the evil power under the mask of the church or the holiness.

    I’ll be watching and praying for this special sessions of the General Conference with hope to see breaking through this darkiest time in the United Methodist History. Then being able to sing all together Hallelujah, Jesus In Victory, He is risen indeed from the grave.


  3. Bishop, l served with you on the GBCS long before your election when you were helping Larry to shave each morning and l was putting cream, sugar and a straw in his coffee at breakfast. Now you are doing what l am doing with my husband of 40 years.
    May the church be as wise at the GC as it was the day you were elected. God bless you on your difficult journey and God bless us all if we are foolish.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. With you, Ken, in knowing that the risen Christ is present in, with and through love in his name… not in judgementalism or exclusion. But our lack of love does judge us. Thanks for the blessing of your life and witness.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on Making Room for Adventure and commented:
    What a most wonderful meaning of love and the greatest calling of all! Although, I’m sad that Bishop Carder will be unable to be a General conference physically. I know his wisdom and words will be there in spirit and influence. God bless you Bishop for expressing love so beautifully to your beloved wife and beloved community of faith!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What an amazing piece of heartfelt writing! I share your concerns and your prayers. Blessings on you and your Linda as you travel this long road together!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Dear Bishop Carder, This made me weep tears of joy as I see you caring for your beloved with such devotion. How wonderful it is to be able to care for one another in the Body of Christ also with devotion. I pray that the General Conference will be just as you said, people showing love to one another and wanting to love each other better. God bless you and Linda. Thank you for sharing with all of us. Joy Eastridge

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you so very much for putting these thoughts and feelings down on paper for others to read and be touched. Your description of love helps me to see ever new dimensions in the experience and expression of love. I am so grateful for your wisdom and for your profound insights, showing us that the Holy is in the smallest actions all around us. With much gratitude, Jean Galyon

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Bishop Carder, my grandmother would think you are awesome, because you were in so many ways as she served as your church secretary at Concord UMC.. Thank you for your God-led counsel in the days ahead of this Conference. May you continue to be filled with the Holy Spirit as you serve Him by ministering to your precious Linda!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. What a WONDERFUL and TOUCHING message, Bishop Carder. Please: Will someone who is going to General Conference read this message to those assembled at some point in the Conference? Please!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Bravo! Your love and care for Linda is the most important thing you can possibly be doing. Sometimes we are tempted to think that events such as the conference are the important things in life. But really, what is more important than love and faithfulness in the tasks that God assigns to us alone. This act of love may be the most important thing you ever do.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you! Your love decision is most appropriate. Love comes in the practical, everyday actions! You are correct.

    Anne Loy, Member Central UMC Knoxville Member, Holston Annual Conference

    Sent from Mail for Windows 10

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thank you Bishop

    I too am Care Taker of my husband Glenn of 57 years. Sometimes The thoughts enter my mind, am I doing all HE requires of me? Then I realize it is one of the greatest acts of Love God calls us to.
    I should have died from the lung blood clots I had just weeks ago. I know God said, I’m not ready for you yet Martha.
    Return to loving and caring for my child who needs you!

    Your words affirm my choice. May all at General Conference have open minds to hear what God is so earnestly trying to convey about acceptance and True Love

    Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing. May you be sustained by God’s grace as you care for your beloved husband. It is sacred work and it requires that we also take care of ourselves so we can care for other. So, I hope you are finding ways to care for your own need for rest!


  14. Thank you for your love ~ of your wife, of your denomination, of God and the teachings of his son. Thank you!

    Jenny Driskill

    (I was a small child ~ Jenny Geisler ~ when you were my minister at Concord UMC. Your writings and mindfulness continue to nourish my faith.)

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Bishop Carder: Thank you ever so much for your loving heart and your faithful witness. I am reminded that no matter what happens in St. Louis, God’s desire is for us to continue to be in ministry to those in need. And, as you have told us with eloquence and grace, it is so often in the small acts of love and kindness that the character of a Christian heart is shown. I will add my prayers for you and your beloved. Shalom, Rev. Tim Woycik

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Dear Bishop, Your letter was read in a worship service at Boonsboro UMC in Lynchburg, VA. Surely. if a heart can be in two places at once, yours will be. Your letter is filled with love that can only be expressed by a follower of Our Lord Jesus The Christ. Thank you for sharing with so many. Blessing, Carl

    Liked by 1 person

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