Friday, May 04, 2012

General Conference- Reflections in the Immediate Aftermath

Well that was... interesting...

No, I mean it. I was engaged in General Conference in a way that I never have been before. I watched a lot of the plenaries and worships on the live feed, often in a Google+ hangout with a few folks I knew before, and a few friends that I have now gotten to know.

It's very hard to recap all that's gone on in the last two weeks, and if you're reading this post at all, you're probably plugged in and know what all has happened. If not, let me recommend a couple good sources: Katie Z. Dawson, a reserve clergy delegate from Iowa; Melissa Meyers, a reserve clergy delegate from Illinois; GC2012 Conversations; Jay Voorhees over at Methoblog, and, of course, Ministry Matters.

I posted at the beginning of General Conference about what I hoped would happen. And, of course, it's a mixed bag.

The changes to guaranteed appointments for Elders are not quite what I'd hoped. No changes were made in the appointment system itself, but there are some good checks and balances on the Bishops' power, so I'm hopeful that this will help deal with ineffective clergy (the reason for this discussion) while offering protections to those who take the risk of offering themselves up for itinerant ministry.

I am disappointed, but not all together surprised, that we can't even officially acknowledge that we are not of one mind on sexual orientation. The fight for equality and full inclusion goes on.

The restructuring debates were the most interesting thing. No plan, even the heavily amended ones, made it out of committee. But there were enough votes to get "dead" legislation brought up in plenary, with a hybrid called "Plan UMC" passing, but then getting ruled unconstitutional by the Judicial Council. The boards and agencies voluntarily reduced their respective numbers of members somewhat, but that's about it. Check out some of the above sources for more details, and expect this conversation to continue.

After all of this, the biggest question on my mind is what it means for us to be a global connection, and if there aren't some ways we could alter what that looks like to maintain our connection and shared ministry, while taking some of the pressure off. I'm going to chew on this for a day or two, and then post some ideas I've got.

Even though many are feeling hurt and disappointed in the aftermath of this General Conference, let us all pray a prayer of thanks for the bishops, delegates, and staff who worked very hard under very tough conditions to do this work on our behalf. We may not agree with everything (or, for that matter, anything) they decided on, but they were willing to put in the time and effort to do the work. And for that, they deserve our gratitude.