I realize you haven’t heard much from any of us. We have had four solid days of legislative committee meetings. They begin at 8 am and go until evening worship begins at 8:30 pm Wednesday through Saturday. This year we are even being fed lunch so we can take just one hour instead of 2 for lunch. Some committees took their lunches back to the room – or got dinner together as well to keep working. I served on the world-wide church sub-section of Faith and Action. Our most major contribution was working on what would be in the world-wide Book of Discipline. Our sub-committee chair was from Denmark and we worked hard together. He asked me to help him with filling out the forms to help with the English, although his English was excellent. It did give me a chance to have some good conversations with him about the church in Europe. He shared his aggravation with some of the other Europeans who were requesting translations here where at their central conference meeting they all speak English. Although to be fair, there they are all speaking their second language, so it is a more equal playing field. Speaking one language here makes me feel a bit inferior!
My legislative committee finished around 5:30 Saturday (several went to the mandatory finishing time of 9:30). It was a draining and emotional afternoon. We are recommending some small steps forward – although for many it seems like a very small step. And of course all the legislation goes forward now to the whole plenary. There wasn’t as much drama in our committee as in some of the others, but I know many felt as emotionally drained as I did.
And so came Sabbath. Last GC we did not have a break on Sunday – we had worship and then back to legislative committees. This year we actually had more than 6 hours more legislative time than in 2008. And it was during the mornings and afternoons when hopefully we were at our best. And we had a scheduled sabbath. Joe and I worshipped at Hyde Park UMC, where Jim Harnish, a member of the Commission, is the senior pastor. We went to the 9:30 contemporary service and then stayed for the first part of the 11:00 traditional church so that we could hear the bell choir and the adult choir anthem. We decided not to hear Bishop Willimon’s sermon for a second time, but as we were leaving a woman offered to take us over to see their other 11:00 service which is in a former bar that they have refurbished for worship and youth space. It was also a great service. Fun to be in a vibrant spot. I’m going to try to post pictures (or see if Diane can).
We spent a couple of hours in the beautiful hotel pool – some of it in conversation with British delegates, who were REALLY appreciating the warm weather! Then we met Caitlin Chaney for dinner. Caitlin, daughter of our good friends in Charleston, lives and works in Tampa. It was fun seeing her (and I report to all CCUM friends she is doing well!) The evening finished with presentations from COSROW (commission on the Status Role of Women) which included Diane in the video (prompting a friend to text me that he was proud to know the famous Kenastons); archives and history; and great presentations on our four areas of focus – I hope you will check these out (Diane, can you post the links?) a good reminder of how much good we do. The four areas of focus are Ministry With the Poor, Developing Leadership, Global Health (Nothing But Nets and Global AIDS fund) and New places for new people (new church starts). (I wrote this during the celebration which was wonderful but ended up going far too long. Someone forgot the bedtime thing….)
Tomorrow we start a lot of hard work. It will be a long hard week, but tonight I am grateful for Sabbath.