Day 10: Change
Day 10: Change
Tonight I would like to ask for prayers for Jessica Ireland. She is a delegate here from Iowa Annual Conference. She was hit by a car and taken to Tampa General Hospital. At this point her condition was unknown, but she was conscious when she was put into the ambulance. So please offer your prayers for her. Also tonight a young clergy person had just found out that one of her friends in seminary had passed away a couple of days before and at this point the cause of that was unknown.
I will report that I made connections today at lunch; well at least I strengthened some of the outside connections that I have made here. A group of young people went to a Mexican cantina for lunch to talk about our next step after the restructuring plan was in effect. We (the young people that had met last night) had decided there were some questions that needed to be answered and that there were also some amendments that needed to be made to include more young people and people of color. These amendments were not made in any way either. During lunch I was asked to move to trade seats with someone else who was a “seated” delegate. He was seated at the end of the table and kind of separated from the conversation. I know that this made me feel excluded but I don’t know how to bring it up with the other young people. For the most part I just let it go because the people seated on the floor had the ability to work faster than the rest of us so them working together was a good thing. Also Motoe offered to trade seats with me putting me slightly closer to the conversation and only slightly further away than I had started. However we all need to be heard not just those of us who happen to be delegates at the current moment, and when asking to have something changed, we all need to be a little more aware of how we say things.
For dinner I was with all the people from OR-ID that have come to Tampa for whatever reason. It was a good dinner and I made connections with people from outside the delegation but inside the more local connection. During that dinner I was sitting next to April who was pleased with how fast the restructuring conversation/debate/work happened. She was pleased with it because it was quite possible that the restructuring would have taken enough time that all of the inclusiveness and sexuality work would not happen because it would get pushed out. However I was seated across from Mark who was ok with it happening that fast because it gave time and room for other work to be done, but was a little hesitant to be excited because it is still a really dirty plan that needs to be worked on further and perfected. This was the impression I got for both of them. It seems that this is the overall consensus of most people (a big mix). Personally I don’t know where to stand on the fact that it happened so fast. I was against the plan passing at all because of the lack of representation to create it and because it was so dirty, but by the same token I was pleased that it didn’t take so long because the other issues need to be addressed.
Along the lines of the restructure there were a few injustices during the creation of this plan. The first injustice came to the people from “The Commission on the Status and Role of Women” (COSROW) and the “General Council on Religion and Race” (GCORR). These two agencies of the UMC, under the “old” structure had their own boards and staff as agencies. When Plan UMC was created they were asked if they would be willing to combine into a single committee known as “United Methodist Committee on Inclusiveness” (UMCI). They said that they would be willing to do so but not the way that the Plan UMC people had proposed. They drafted an amendment and were told they would have time to present it to the conference and then were not. So the first injustice is that GCORR and COSROW got the shaft of this deal. They were lied to and pushed out of the way.
The next group that got lied to was the young people. The people that crafted “Plan UMC” (some members from the creation of the original IOT and Plan B proposals) promised us the ability to amend the plan to include more young people in the plan. The reason this was asked for is because in the “old” structure with the Connectional Table (CT) there was 1 youth and 1 young adult that were required to sit on that board. Also in the old structure it was written that all general boards and agency’s SHALL have 10% of their boards be young people. With the plan that was presented today shall has been changed to should and the new General Council for Strategy and Oversight (GCSO) has no requirement for any young person representation. The only group of people that actually received fruits of the promises made to it was the central conferences. Their amendment for more voice and membership went through. This is a good thing, don’t get me wrong, but I believe this happened for the wrong reasons. I feel like they were given what they wanted so that Plan UMC would have their 40% worth of votes. I don’t feel like it was done because it is right to give central conferences a fair voice.
The Final thing that happened that was an injustice has been happening for a long time in a lot of places. The young people that were required to be part of the conversations were ignored, patronized, left out, and disrespected. In the last quadrennium there were two girls seated as the young people. These two ladies were never taken seriously in meetings and always talked to like they didn’t know anything. People also would not explain to them what was happening so that they couldn’t catch on. At one point they were excluded from a private meeting of the CT and when they called out other members were told that their emails were never received and if they could prove that they sent said emails they would be apologized to. They were later told that it did not matter if they found the emails because it the meeting wasn’t something they need to be worried about. (On a side note; keep in mind that I am paraphrasing this story from memory and I may not have the exact details but I assure you that I am not exaggerating or anything). Along with that when the IOT and Plan B people got together to create Plan UMC they did it in kind of a back room deal sort of way. For the last meeting they had they invited two young people to be there to say that they had been inclusive of different groups. (It was during this meeting that they were promised their amendment to include young people) During that meeting they were told that they should not worry too much about this plan because it was over their heads anyway. They tried to ask questions and they did not get responses (this happened to young people on the plenary floor this morning as well), when they tried to give answers the people asking would then ask another person to confirm, and other things that I don’t have a good enough recollection of to speak to because I was not there.
There were a couple of bishops that approached a young person after the restructure went through to talk about these injustices and what we as young people want to do with/about that. They have offered to help us have our voices heard in the days to come. We as the young people who chose to meet tonight could not come to any real speech to give to the conference about this. So we are going to take to the meeting with the bishops a request to have one of the bishops speak up on behalf of him or herself about what they saw happening and also see if they can make it possible for one of us to give a short address on Friday morning or afternoon. I will be in attendance for this meeting but have been asked to not speak. I will let you all know how it goes. But for tonight I will say good night. It is late and I need to get to bed.
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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.