Thrill, Intrigue and Disappointment


Saturday was the final day of legislative committees and I spent ALL day watching the discussion around restructuring. By the end of the day--extended by the grace of the General Secretary for 30 minutes beyond what the rules allowed to 10:00 pm--the committee had defeated all of the major restructuring proposals--the IOT proposal, Plan B, and finally at about 9:50 pm the MFSA proposal.

For those of us watching, it had the feel of a political thriller. There was the intrigue of watching the major plan proponents huddling to devise strategy at various times. There were various parliamentary maneuvers. There were mistakes made by the parliamentarian and the chair. There were missed opportunities by the plan participants to take what they had achieved and claim victory, but instead overplay their hands and lose everything.

But I also think there was real disappointment and dismay that the committee had worked so hard and come away with nothing to recommend to the plenary session of General Conference. While I don't know any of the plan participants personally, and as I said before, I had (and continue to have) major reservations about a number of aspects about these proposals, I am convinced that each proposal was crafted out of a genuine desire to improve the ability of the United Methodist Church to "Make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world."

I am also convinced that the reason none of these plans passed is ultimately because none of the plans made a coherent, logical linkage between the changes the plans proposed and the church's mission. Any plan for change will need to make that case very persuasively.

Alas, the drama in Tampa over this issue is not over. For those of us who like watching the political process unfold--who like the political thriller aspect--it all moves to the plenary starting Monday where there will be more acts in this play. To mix the metaphors--for those who don't like watching the sausage making, avert your eyes and we will let you know when it is safe to look again.

Mark Bateman
Mark Bateman is a delegate to the 2016 Western Jurisdiction Conference and will be attending General Conference as an additional reserve delegate and observer. Mark serves as a lay representative on the Board of Ordained Ministry and was part of the 2012 Delegation. He lives in Salem, Oregon.