(If it’s less than “breaking,” does this mean it’s “cracking?” or “bending?” What’s the verb here, y’all?)
Congratulations to Judi /Mom for being elected chairperson of the Commission on General Conference. She served the last four years as chair of the Rules Committee on the Commission on GenConf, but will now chair the entire commission. Congrats!
If you haven’t already read them, go back and read our posts on the Rules Committee:
Someone asked on facebook what this General Conference has actually accomplished (besides getting rid of guaranteed appointment, which isn’t something I favored). I initially responded cynically:
“We figured out that we don’t know how to be a global church, we don’t know how to do holy listening/conversation, we’re not in agreement about much at all, and we don’t trust each other (that last point was already articulated in the Towers-Watson report a few years ago). Hopefully, these learnings will not be lost (to cynicism or neglect), but will guide us into our future. Our true adaptive challenge is: How do we increase our trust of one another?”
And then I added: “WAIT! We did accomplish one thing!! We passed the Rules Committee Report with a 92.5% approval rating!”
And that got me thinking about what else we have accomplished:
- We began the long, difficult process of repenting—of intentionally changing our ways—for our sins against indigenous peoples, especially Native Americans. The wounds are still open, but this is a start.
- The United Methodist Women became an independent agency, no longer subsumed under the General Board of Global Ministries. See their awesome display here.
- We voted to support peace in Palestine and Israel (book recommendation from both Diane an Judi: Blood Brothers by Elias Chacour. It will change your understanding of God, peace, the Beatitudes, and the Middle East).
- We heard from Rev. Lorenza Andrade-Smith of the Rio Grande Conference who has been appointed to a ministry of solidarity with the poor in order to advocate for systemic changes. She spoke both at the Methodist Federation for Social Action “tabernacle” (a justice-oriented tent) and in plenary. Listen to her as she explains why she has a warrant out for her arrest!
- We worshiped God. And not only did we have amazing speakers and even more amazing testimonies, but our worship was subversive. It was spirit-filled. From “Heleluyan” to “And Are We Yet Alive,” we sang songs of freedom: “And God will delight when we are creators of justice and joy, compassion and peace…”And I believe that God is hearing our songs of prayer.
- We approved a change from the title “lay speaker” to “lay servant,” which is a much more accurate description of the holistic role of lay speakers (which includes speaking/preaching but is more about the “speakers'” discipleship)
- We (at the last minute) restructured the boards and agencies in a way that is thoughtful, cost-saving, globally-reaching, mission-oriented and (best of all!) constitutional. Jesus has good words to say about those who come at the 11th hour. I just wish we wouldn’t save our work for the 11th hour!
- We read insightful reports each day from the monitoring team.
- And we should not undervalue the decisions of the General Conference to NOT pursue courses of action in front of it: to re-define what it means to be a bishop, to rush into a restructure, to use proportionality instead of equity as the way of the church, to close the plenary hall to visitors. Sometimes we have to say “no” in order to say “yes” to something better on down the line. I believe that our NOs did that.
So it’s not perfect. But when the bishop asks: “Are you going on to perfection—perfection in love?”
I pray we can say, “With God’s help, we are!”