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First Hand Experience: Amanda Stein

January 12, 2012

Now I Get to Have Wine with Communion…!

No, it’s not quite like that… I’m well aware of our denomination’s strong history with the Temperance Movement.
In 2008 I attended General Conference in Ft. Worth, TX as an alternate to the delegation. In 2008 Wisconsin’s delegation was comprised of 5 lay people and 5 clergy. Just four years later, in 2012, we are now down to 3 lay and 3 clergy. (While the number of United Methodists in our state is indeed declining, the greater factor in our shrinking representation at General Conference is due to the wildfire growth of Methodism on the African continent. The number of those elected to General Conference is mandated to be under 1,000 people, and so our representation at GC is now shifting to the global south).
In the line of election, I was voted seventh, making me in a sense, a second alternate. Sue Burwell, one of our seated delegates at the time invited me to sit in on a couple hours and a couple of votes. One of the votes that I was honored to take was on approving “full communion” between the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America) and the UMC.  While a United Methodist may notice little theological difference in an ELCA Church (and perhaps slightly more liturgically)– the conversation between the two denominations took more than 30 years to discuss, discern, and deliver an agreement on full communion! Pretty amazing, pretty lengthy!
I remember waiting excitedly, with trembling hand, about to push the button to affirm this decades-long dialogue.  When I did push “yes,” my first thought was to say a little prayer for my local church, the United Methodist Church, and all of the awesome ELCA Lutherans I knew. But also in that moment I remember thinking that I should have been concerned with theological differences between Luther and Wesley or the transubstantiation of the Eucharist, but instead my mind wandered to considering my next ecumencial encounter and thought, “Hey, cool… now I get to have wine with communion!”
-Amanda Stein
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