Saturday, May 14, 2016

Last post for now

I'm trying - I really am - but there is so much happening right now that I am having a hard time doing what I need to do for General Conference and for myself. So please check back but don't anticipate a post each day. Instead, consider following Wil Cantrell's posts. I don't know Wil so I can't promise they will continue to be good, but I've appreciated his writing so far. (It's a lot easier to find a moment to read than to write.

I will say one more word because I know that most of you are concerned specifically about LGBT legislation. If you've been following along in other venues like twitter you're probably discouraged. I understand that, but I also hope that you'll wait until next week to get too discouraged. At the moment we are divided not only into 12 committees, but then into at least 25 subcommittees. The makeup of those subcommittees is somewhat fluid and is often not representative of the full committee or the body as a whole. For example, in my subcommittee I've been working to include "sexual orientation" as a protected status (like race, economic condition, etc.) On Thursday we lost a vote to add it by one, then passed it by two, then yesterday and today lost again by two or three votes. In a subcommittee of 17 that is part of a committee of 75 it will be interesting to see what happens this afternoon in front of the whole committee. And then it will need to come before the whole General Conference. So there are still many possibilities of any of the many discriminatory passages to come out. Do not be optimistic,but do not lose hope.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

General Conference Day 2

Actually it's morning of day 3. General Conference is always slow to gt moving, but particuarly this year. We have completed two of ten days of work - 20% - and have still not finished passing our rules. We are now hearing nominations for a variety of offices. The process is painfully slow.

Worship is very inspiring at the start of the day, and then we immediately shift gears and get bogged down. I'm reminded that the first general conferences were for clergy only, but much more for the purpose of worship and renewal than for the setting of rules. I wouldn't suggest we go back to clergy only, but it would be nice if our emphasis could shift back.

The final rule that we still need to address is rule 44, a proposed rule to help us address contentious issues. Because it is not currently in our rules, we would have to both approve adding it to the rules and then vote to make use of it. Probably won't add it to the rules and we will almost certainly not actually use it.

Nominations have closed and we're about to argue about rules again - gotta go!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

General Conference Day 1.5

Lunch break at GC on day 2. It's a little embarrasing to be at this point in the conference and still be debating the rules that will be governing the conference. I'm concerned that the more time we spend on minor details the less time we will have to deal with major issues. For the most part, though, everyone has been civil and trying to work together.

One of the unique aspects to General Conference is the need for translation. When I first put on headphones to hear a French speaker I felt like I was at the UN. It's not a bad analogy, really. The Great Comission to to go into all the world has been (partially) fulfilled and the UMC is representative of that. Those of us in the U.S. forget that we are in part of the world that needed to hear the Gospl the longest. Those in Northern Africa were among the first. But the translation issue really points out the tension of living in a global denomiation. It is not just translation of language that is hard, it's translation of  culture. Not everybody uses Roberts' Rules for conducting business. Our differet cultures have different rules of etiquette. It truly is a deep challenge for us to face.

I'll try to post again tonight, but it may not happen until tomorrow. We all appreciate prayers while we go about this work.