Day 9: Talk, Talk, Talk
Tonight I would like to ask for prayers for the whole of General conference and our legislative process. Tomorrow the entire body of 950 some will be debating and voting on the new proposed church restructure. It will be very heated debate and we need prayers that we will remain loving to one another.
I will start by saying that today (Tuesday) I ate both lunch and dinner with people not just from my delegation. To start with I went and ate lunch at the common witness coalition tabernacle. I watched a few presentations and has a small amount of conversation with one woman about the “Where is Doug?” campaign. During dinner I as well as about 16 others were invited to meet and eat at a restaurant and talk about camp and retreat ministries. I met someone from the east coast named mike and he and I talked about camps always needing workers, and someone from a southern conference that I had a lengthy debate with. I feel like I am making the connections that I wanted to be making. During both lunch and dinner there was a lot of talking happening for me with other delegates and visitors to the conference.
In between the meal times a lot happened today. To start with guaranteed appointments were done away with. At first this happened very quickly on the consent calendar and people were shocked that it had not come to the floor. Then someone made a motion to reconsider. That motion was defeated quickly. Therefore there was no discussion and for the first time it seems the general body accepted the work of the legislative committee on a somewhat heated and controversial subject. There was not as much talk as anyone expected and it went through the system almost as fast as it could have. I thought that was the process working at its best.
There were two other issues that there was much talk on today. One of these was the restructure, and the other was an addition to the preamble in our BOD (Book Of Discipline). I was greatly appalled by the discussion that was around the addition to the preamble. First it started out with a minority report that wanted to add language that recognized the differences between us in the church but still said that we are a united church in spite of that. It was worded slightly fancier than that, but that was the gist. From the floor came an amendment that asked to say that regardless of beliefs and actions we are still children of god and we are loved no mater what. That did not seem to be going over well. One of the two main reasons that I am a United Methodist is because I can believe something different than the person sitting next to me and still be accepted in my church family. Many people were against this wording saying that if you don’t believe the way the bible (mind you the bible that can be interpreted many different ways), says you should then you have removed yourself from the grace and love of god. So, then there was an amendment (to the amendment) that asked to have wording that said there is nothing that can separate us from the love of god. The rational for this amendment was what our church is fundamentally based on. It gave credence to both what Paul said in Romans (therefore biblical reference) and Wesleyan theology about prevalent grace. We are all the children of god and he loves us even when we turn away from him. The amendment wanted to state that we as a church stand united in this truth. So it is a great amendment to have. Very soundly stating why I am a Methodist. This amendment passed, which I am grateful for, however it only passed by a 3% margin. And then the original amendment only passed by an 8% margin. I am very disturbed by some of the talking that happened about how god’s grace is not open to all of us. The very tradition by which we are Methodists was threatened. It truly makes you wonder where we are going as a church.
Ok A little confession to make, the rest of this post was written this morning. I left my power cable in the young person’s lounge and my computer died before I finished it. So if all of a sudden the voice seems a little different its because I have had sleep. I do however still have the same points to make with the rest of it.
Now I will share my thoughts on the talk of the restructure. The first thing that seems to be a consensus among many groups (Western jurisdiction delegates, young people, Love Your Neighbor coalition) is that this was cobbled together too quickly and needs to be tabled or referred so that the research and interviews and talking can happen with more diverse groups of people. More voices need to be at the table on creating the plans that we all have to consider as a church restructure. These groups feel like having change for the sake of change is not what the church needs. We need change that will drive the church to being more vital. It is my hope as well that we table this toward looking for more voices.
Another part about the talk is how do we determine what is fair representation? Is it about money (the us jurisdictions do more of the funding so we should have more voice), is it about proportionality based on membership, should it just be equal numbers from each conference regardless of membership? Personally I don’t know but I would agree with a young clergy person that “I'm not impressed when you say yours is bigger” his thoughts are in a his blog.
Another thing on the restructure is; what will it do to missions and ministry while we implement the change? It is just something to think about. I am sorry to cut this short but my mind is running wild with the stuff happening here so I say goodbye to all, have a nice day.