Day 4: Frustration!
Tonight I would like to ask for prayers for my stepmother Brin Kernan. She has been having chronic pain caused by degenerative arthritis and Fiber Myalgia. Recently, however, her doctor took her off almost all of her pain medications because of some concerning kidney tests. They are slowly working on figuring out what works best for her but the pain is pretty bad. So I request prayers for her.
Last night I wrote how I intended to make sure I was doing the connecting that I was here to do partially by trying to have at least lunch and some dinners with delegates from different conferences. I am proud to report that today I had both meals with people from around the country. For lunch we didn’t have much time so I just ate at the conference center in the youth lounge, but there were people from Oklahoma, Wisconsin, New York, and California all eating lunch and getting to know one another. And for dinner I went to a place called The Taco Bus, with 3 delegates from the committee I am observing and the author of one of the petitions that is before the Local Church Legislative committee. The group of us that went also included people interested in the issue that the petition dealt with. We had wonderful conversations about many of the different things being discussed in committees and in plenary. We focused on the larger two issues of inclusive-ness in the church (mostly from a membership standpoint) and also on the restructuring that is to take place. And as to emphasize one of the themes I have developed being here, the group of us were primarily younger (probably all but one of us under 40) and we were able to talk openly and in disagreement with each other, but yet respectfully and without much tension between us. To continually experience this and be part of it is the best thing I could hope for as a non-voting delegate to GC.
Now onto explaining the title of this blog post. Today was the first day we spent all of our times in legislative committees. The committee that I chose to be an observer for is Local Church (LC). In the LC committee we have been moving extremely slowly handling our petitions. It took almost 4 hours of confused arguing and questioning to get through the first six or seven of the things we needed to act on. This by itself was quite frustrating to me because the things we were working on were trivial easy things to handle, or at least I thought so. Later I learned that about 40% of the committee was from a central conference (any conference outside the US is a “Central conference”), and most of them had not received the legislation to begin to read until they arrived in Tampa on Monday. As well as the fact that almost 75% of the people on the committee were at GC for their first time. This helped me be more understanding and patient. The other reason for the slowness was because the chair of the committee is quite inexperienced in parliamentary procedure and did not keep up well with the things going on within the body of the committee. Now don’t get me wrong he is a wonderful person. He is patient and easy going. He has no qualms about asking for help and/or the body’s opinion on something. He has his strengths and in many situations would be great to chair a committee. But when you mix the inexperience of the committee and his own inexperience you get a very large amount of confusion.
The other big thing that frustrated me today was being an observer. Being an observer you don’t get to speak to anyone seated on the bar of the committee, you don’t get to ask questions, you cannot make motions, you cannot answer questions, all you get to do is sit and observe. I knew this ahead of time when I headed to my committee this morning. What I did not know is just how frustrating it is to not have any ability to do anything. As a great number of people know this last year at Annual Conference I spent more time at a microphone than any other single person (excluding the bishop). I like to be in the middle of the discussion, debate, and process. love to “be in the thick of it”. I found it so hard today to not be able to not step in. I believe this was made worse by the pace and inexperience of the committee, but taught me that I need to work on my patience, listening, and thinking skills. At the moment however, this makes it no less frustrating.
The last thing I will say is that it is frustrating that the groups drafting the proposals to restructure the church did not do research on all the demographics of the church and are now trying to force fit a plan where it won’t. Young people were not really conferred with, and there was very little representation from the central conferences. There is no real way to make this a more simple process, or at least not one that I can see. That is also frustrating when it comes to that topic. One shining light about all that is happening with the restructure is the youth have decided to meet after worship for an informal meeting to share our thoughts, hopes, concerns, and questions with each other and those who have the answers. There is still much confusion and concerns amongst the young people, but again as I continue to say we, tonight, were able to meet in a group of about 40-45 of us and do some holy conferencing on the subject. We had our disagreements but were able to accept those and still be able to come to the table openly and respectfully.
I have to be up again in just a few short hours so I am going to sign off now and get some sleep but I will continue to keep you updated on my ever changing experience here at GC.