Day 5: Progress and Repentance


Day 5: Progress and Repentance


4/28/2012

Tonight I would like to sort of selfishly ask for prayers for myself. In the last couple days I have had some phlegm build up in my throat and this morning I woke up to it being a full blown head cold. I have gotten hold of some cough medicine and cough drops to help get better. But I wound like prayers for my recovery before I have to fly home. Also I would like anyone to read this to post something they would like for me to keep in my prayers. We are a UNITED church and I would like to unite myself with all of you back home in prayer.

Also on the subject of prayer during the young people’s meeting tonight there was something brought to my attention. As a denomination we quite frequently ask to have prayers for people outside the church. Do we ever ask people outside the church to pray for us? Under this theory I would like to make a personal recommendation for each and every person who reads this to call someone they know that is not a part of a church and talk to them about your day. I say this because it is also good to stay connected to our friends. So call someone and have a friendly conversation, or maybe it could even be someone you already planned to call today. And I want to urge you to tell them you will hold them in your prayers and then also ask them to pray for you. I learned tonight from another young person delegate that it is not always enough to spread the word of god by praying for others. We need to invite and encourage others to be involved, even if that involvement only starts with something as small as asking them to pray. Doing this may very well give us some progress in reaching out.

Now, on to the good stuff. Today I have to admit that I was not able to have either of my meals with another delegation. As I said above I was sick today and because of that I slept through the lunch time, and for dinner we had it pre scheduled to have dinner with our delegation and the bishop. However it was a wonderful meal at a very nice, but also quite affordable, restaurant on the river-walk. We had some discussion about what was happening at conference and what progress our committees were making.

I will start out by giving an almost news report about my after-worship activities. Tonight after worship a small group of the young people met. At this meeting (like last nights) we were able to find ourselves in holy conferencing and made some decisions and progress as almost a caucus of young people. We had 5 main points of our meeting tonight on a semi, but not really, official agenda. The progress we made tonight was on 5 items:

  1. We need to make sure when we speak we do so clearly and fluently. Doing this makes us look better in the hopes that in the future we will be more respected and more likely to get elected and not be such a small voice in the crowd. It also makes us be heard and understood better here in the present.
  2. We decided that it is always best to have an insanity check on ourselves. Before we speak to the body we need to check with someone else to make sure we are not factually incorrect and we are not going off all half-cocked and sounding stupid or insane. This goes hand in hand with number 1.
  3. The next thing we decided was that we need to use our connections to our bishops and the bishops of the other young people to make sure we get recognized and heard.
  4. The next thing that we talked about was a specific piece of legislation that helps direct conferences and churches to consider the young person’s schedules when setting meeting times for boards and committees. We want to lift this piece of legislation from the consent calendar and amend it to sound more stable. We put someone in charge of making sure the paperwork gets filled out and sent to the right places and intend to meet about the actual amendments tomorrow.
  5. The final thing we talked about was how the church will not change from the top down. It needs to start at the bottom and not even at the local church level, but at the person to person level. And if we want to change the church we have to change the culture of the church first. We discussed that this is done through language. Not English vs. French or Spanish, but the catch phrases and slang that we use with each other and people we want to connect with. As young people we decided that we need to be the start of some of that, because it is and will be our church. We will brainstorm tomorrow what some of the language of the changed church might be.

I feel a great deal of progress was made from the young people tonight.

Going backward in time a little (it will make sense I promise), after dinner was a service tonight about repenting the actions of the church in the past toward the native peoples of this country and indigenous people around the world. I learned tonight that there were some terrible atrocities committed against the native people, and those acts were led by official leaders of the church. I knew that we as Americans have nearly but completely destroyed their lands, and way of life. What I did not know was that the church and specifically the Methodist Church had been instrumental in helping that. To be honest I was completely and thoroughly appalled by this information. However, tonight there was a service to ask for forgiveness for those acts and start the process of repenting of our sins against the native people and indigenous people that we have wronged around the world. Hopefully the church is really ready to take on this act of repentance and really make it work. Hopefully the notion will not just die once we all go back home after this conference.

I had intended to do a supplemental piece on this earlier today but being sick I did not find the time, but something else that I was recently appalled by while being here at this conference, was treatment of some of us by our own. The day before yesterday (day 3) there were times in the schedule that called for times of “Holy Conversations”. The topic matter of one of these times was Human Sexuality. Now when I read the schedule I was pleased that this was there. I thought it would give time to openly talk about this issue that has caused and continues to cause so much un-necessary tension and controversy. I understood it to be a time where people could share stories and be respectful to the thoughts and opinions of others. I was wrong… Being as I am not an actual voting delegate, (just a reserve) I was not allowed to be part of any of these discussions. However, I have heard, from many, many people, that more often than not these sessions turned into disrespectful un-monitored bully matches against the people in the church that are of the LGBTQ community. Hearing about this was extremely discouraging to me, and it briefly made me worry about our future as a church. But then a very courageous man took a moment of personal privilege during last night’s plenary (day 4’s plenary) to raise this to the body of the general conference, and he was allowed to get out most of what he had to say before he was cut off by the presiding bishop. During his stand and speech there were hundreds of people that stood up to support his calling out of the injustice and hurt that him and his LGBTQ brethren had been put through the day before during these times of “holy conversations”. This movement led to a witness of those in support of LGBTQ creating a wall of silently standing people right outside the door to the main plenary hall. There was only one person that I saw that was rude to any of us standing in that wall of silence and quite a few that shook our hands and blessed us for being witness to the injustice. This gives me hope for our future of full inclusiveness. It also makes me well aware that there is still progress and repentance to be made by the church today.

Those are my thoughts and updated for the day. I am headed to get a good night’s sleep now. Good night to you all. I will be praying for you and our church, and continuing to keep y’all informed.


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Vincent Myers

Vincent Myers is a delegate to the 2012 Western Jurisdictional Conference and is attending General Conference as an additional reserve delegate and observer. Vincent is a student at Chemeketa Community College and lives in Salem, Oregon.

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