GENERAL BOARD OF CHURCH AND SOCIETY - Randall Miller,
GENERAL BOARD OF DISCIPLESHIP- Motoe Yamada,
GENERAL COMMISSION ON COMMUNICATION - Emily Allen,
GENERAL COMMISSION ON RELIGION AND RACE - Dale Weatherspoon.
Full report at http://westernjurisdictionumc.org/uploads/media/03_NOMINATIONS_REPORT_01.pdf
Today we did all of the things that begin a conference. Worship was led by Bishop Sharon Rader Brown who is with us as a representative of the Council of Bishops. She preached a strong sermon on discipleship and inclusion, on surrender and grace. Her words set the tone for a day of conversation, reflection, repentance, rebirth, and hope.
We heard from Rev. Wilk Miller representing the local bishop of the ELCA as our ecumenical representative and approved the organizational motions.
Bishop Carcaño brought us the Bishops' report. Her focus was on the council's focus on inclusiveness, the earthquake in Haiti, and Imagine No Malaria. Her words were prophetic, faithful, and eloquent, reminding us of our call to live in love, justice, compassion, and peace.
Bishop Grant Hagiya and Janet Forbes introduced Appreciative Inquiry as an alternate method of visioning and moving into the future. Thus, we began a conversation process about our hopes and dreams as we begin to make permeable the boundaries of our Annual Conferences. I believe that it was a fruitful conversation that will further unfold tomorrow.
Bishop Brown presided during the afternoon session, which was an incredibly moving time of conversation about Immigration.... Each speaker brought his/her personal experience of being an immigrant to the United States. There were break out sessions that followed. Each covered a related topic related to immigration and the border. My words are inadequate to explain the incredible danger, injustice, fear, and terror that these person experienced and other continue to experience as they crossed the border to make a better life for themselves and their families.
Bishop Carcaño presided during the later afternoon session. She led us on the beginning of the journey to heal our relationships with Indigenous Peoples through repentance and understanding. We heard the stories of persons who had been removed from their families, had their names changed, stories revised, and lives altered in irrevocable ways. We listened to our own story of complicity in the Massacre at Sand Creek in which a Methodist Clergyman led the army to find and slaughter the peaceful Indians who had entered into the protective area of land. We also listened to parts of the service of repentance from the General Conference, wept, sang, and prayed together.
Finally, we celebrated the ministry and leadership of Bishop Mary Ann Swenson at First Church, San Diego. It was an extraordinary evening of remembrances, humor, music, and sharing.
Tonight we will rest as we prepare for tomorrow's work.
Grace and peace,
I was scheduled to write this for Saturday, but the emotional, physical, and spiritual fatigue of General Conference (GC) was too great to have any cogent thoughts.
My time at GC was spent as a legislative leader over Reconciling Ministries Network issues. While that was the particular lens through which I experienced GC, this reflection is broader as I ponder what occurred at GC and the future to which we are called.
Considering all that happened at GC, it is clear we are a deeply divided church. Vote after vote revealed a deep chasm of theological and ideological differences that really hampered the work of GC and thereby the tasks we as a jurisdiction, annual conference and local churches are called to do. One vote actually passed by two votes! Another, regarding the preamble to the Social Principles, included a floor debate on whether God’s grace was available to all. Hotly contested was whether “nothing could separate us from the God’s love” or whether certain behavior and practices could separate us from God’s love. Only 56% of the delegates agree with the apostle Paul on this matter.
We also have difficulty knowing how to live as a world-wide church. In an age of living in a global village, where social media and communications enable us to cross borders and boundaries with relative ease, the church’s lack of ease at living globally and acting locally is really disconcerting. One of the first songs I learned at church as a child was “In Christ there is no east or west, in him no south or north, but one big fellowship of love throughout the world wide earth.” And perhaps this is the root of our problem: we are a church that is replacing love as the tie that binds us with rules and regulations that too narrowly define who we are to be as United Methodists.
While John Wesley made it clear that differences did not have to divide communities, the differences within our denomination seem to have brought us to an impasse. I have a hunch that even our mission statement—“to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world”—does not help unite us.
As a result, the typo I often make feels like the true state of the church: The UNtied Methodist Church”.
I have more questions than answers about the future of The United Methodist Church. How do we respond as a faithful people to the challenges and opportunities of our current age? How do we order our life together as wise stewards? How do we ensure that all voices are included as we make decisions and plan programs? What new thing is the Holy Spirit doing within our denomination, and can we respond with hope rather than fear?
Perhaps it is time for us to remember Wesley’s words: "In essentials, unity; In non-essentials, liberty; In all things, charity” as we seek to move forward as the people called United Methodist.
If the last 10 days have been a roller coaster, for me, today was the really big up and fast rush down to the end. I even got the post-adrenalin shakes to prove it!
At our seats this morning in plenary, we received a preliminary report from the Committee on Corrections and Editorial Revisions with inconsistencies they found in Plan UMC, regarding which they felt they could not confidently interpret the will of the body without further clarification. (For example, two references to the same paragraph line item contained different wording, and the CCER wanted to know which wording was intended.) My immediate thought was: YES! This will at least help fix the slap-dash work that frustrated me throughout the Plan UMC document. My second thought was (foreshadowing later developments): Hey, they missed one...
Early in the plenary session, someone stood to move that a transition taskforce be formed to address the questions reported by the CCER. He proposed the taskforce be made up of five members of the Connectional Table and five from the Plan UMC writing team, and that they report back to the plenary by 4 this afternoon. Joey, one of the young adults I have met, jumped up to propose an amendment adding a youth and a young adult to the taskforce, to be named by the Division on Ministries With Young People. The amendment and then the motion passed, creating the taskforce – to be convened immediately! At once, our texting group of young people at GC lit up with questions and suggestions about the two representatives to go. Earlie, the youth co-chair of the DMYP, was easily elected (by electronic convening of the present members of the DMYP Executive Table. It was very official ;). Will, the young adult co-chair, was also supported, but then he found out he could not be seated as he was not a delegate. When that was shared by text, the next consensus was to send me instead! In a rush, I got Delilah to sit in for me in plenary, gathered my notes on Plan UMC and the list of inconsistencies, and dashed up one floor to the office where the taskforce was gathering. I was about to sit down with the movers and shakers – small wonder my knees were shaking!
My goals were to advocate for language of inclusivity where possible, especially regarding the membership of young people on general boards and agencies, express other concerns about Plan UMC, contribute to the editorial clarifications and represent young people well. I got to do all four! In one section the authors had changed language about jurisdictional nominating committees considering diversity in the members they elected to each general board and agency to considering diversity in the aggregate across all their elected members. The wording was unclear to the CCER, and I helped the authors and taskforce work our way back to reinserting “each.” A couple of times, I reminded the group of the missing diversity at the present table and, previously, on the original authoring team. I expressed disappointment that representation of youth and young adult voices was forgotten and dropped from the highest agency of the new church structure. I added the editorial inconsistency I had noticed to the list for correction. And finally, I spoke with unique expertise to one of the editorial questions and led my subgroup's meeting, reporting back on our decisions to the whole taskforce.
Throughout, young adult monitors observing the taskforce affirmed me through eye contact and comments on breaks, while the texting group of other young people lifted me up before and after the taskforce meeting. I was also able to report back to them with updates on the decisions made in the taskforce.
It was almost poetic when, just as the taskforce waited in the wings to present our report at 4, the secretary read the Judicial Council's ruling that had been handed to him on the constitutionality of Plan UMC. In effect, it was entirely UNconstitutional! The work of the taskforce was rendered void, but my voice at that table was not. I continued to remind those who forget or don't understand that diversity and inclusivity are keenly important in our life as the full body of the church, both through my words and my actions.
Dear friends, there are so many other aspects of today and the full 10 days that I would love to reflect on and share with you: the formation of an informal young people's caucus for decompressing and planning action, the conference-changing ramifications of social media to communicate with those at home or those across the plenary floor, thoughts on the culture shock I will feel returning to work Monday morning after two weeks away, and the jokes we made as we became increasingly sleep-deprived and slap-happy this week. But I have packing to finish and an early flight. I hope there will be opportunities to share more as you are interested, through one-on-one interactions and in our brief delegation report to annual conference. I will sign off with one joke:
I move to table the motion that Yoshiro move the table over here...
(My thinking that funny is a clear sign of cumulative sleep deprivation.)
Well here we are, … at the end of another very long day – Day 8! It began this morning with a beautiful sunrise, the sky lighting up through the palm trees – yes, palm trees even in downtown Tampa. As I was walking to the Convention Center, I was reminded of the hope, promise, and possibilities of our faith, even in the midst of dealing with the brutal realities of General Conference.
We are fully into the business of the conference, dealing with the petitions that emerged from the Legislative Committees that worked all last week. Most of the petitions are on the consent calendar and handled expeditiously, but we have 143 petitions that will be considered on the floor of the plenary session throughout the week – with almost 1000 delegates in conversation. After a full day’s work yesterday, we began this morning learning that we had only completed 11 petitions. Clearly, we need to shift into a higher gear and prioritize our work together (which I’m not sure we accomplished today).
The first thing this morning we received the so-called “Plan UMC” (for the reorganization of our church’s structure), supposedly a compromise between the CT/IOT and Plan B contingencies after the train wreck in the General Administration Committee on Saturday night which forwarded no plan to plenary. Of course, this is an attempt to leave General Conference with the promised new organizational structure for our church. Many questions are circulating about “Plan UMC:” How was this compromise plan negotiated? Who was sitting around the table during its composition? How does plenary consider a new plan in 24 hours that has not been considered in a legislative committee? Is it transparent, representational, proportional, and so on? We will probably consider this plan tomorrow in plenary … more to come!
Probably the biggest news today was the abolishment of the security of appointment for ordained elders (often called guaranteed appointment). The petition was part of the consent calendar we considered early in the morning, because it had been overwhelmingly supported by the legislative committee (with amendment). According to the rules of GC, a petition can be removed from the consent calendar with the signatures of 20 delegates. Unfortunately, the request form for this petition had a duplicate signature (resulting in only 19 signatures), so it was not pulled from the consent calendar. About mid-morning, the Twittersphere got busy wondering about this petition prompting a delegate to move for reconsideration (btw: social media has changed the face of GC). Amazingly, the motion to reconsider failed by a 60/40 margin … and it was done, … no more guaranteed appointment. We are all just beginning to wonder what this means for our future together. I am sure this is already a hot topic of conversation, both pro and con.
There was an odd moment while we were considering the preamble to the Social Principles. An amendment was offered to include a new sentence in the preamble asserting that “no one is separated from the love of God (sound familiar?).” It passed, but only by a 56% majority. We are all still wondering what that means.
We concluded the evening celebrating our ecumenical relationships and worshipping together. The band cut loose with their first blues number of the conference, … I was very happy. The preacher was the Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches. A few sound bites: “divisions between churches remain a scandal to overcome;” “the cross remains a mystery to carry what we do not know or understand;” “Christians cannot speak about balance when there is no balance;” and “Jesus said, ‘Take heart! It is I! Have no fear’!” [Twittersphere critique of this inspiring sermon: “Been listening all day and the first person to mention John Wesley was a Lutheran!”]
Finished the night at a strategy session for tomorrow and writing this blog. I’m tired. Good night! Pray for us, … we are praying for and thinking of you constantly, Greg
By Desmond Tutu, special to the Tampa Timesa.
A quarter-century ago I barnstormed around the United States encouraging Americans, particularly students, to press for divestment from South Africa. Today, regrettably, the time has come for similar action to force an end to Israel's long-standing occupation of Palestinian territory and refusal to extend equal rights to Palestinian citizens who suffer from some 35 discriminatory laws.
I have reached this conclusion slowly and painfully. I am aware that many of our Jewish brothers and sisters who were so instrumental in the fight against South African apartheid are not yet ready to reckon with the apartheid nature of Israel and its current government. And I am enormously concerned that raising this issue will cause heartache to some in the Jewish community with whom I have worked closely and successfully for decades. But I cannot ignore the Palestinian suffering I have witnessed, nor the voices of those courageous Jews troubled by Israel's discriminatory course.
Within the past few days, some 1,200 American rabbis signed a letter — timed to coincide with resolutions considered by the United Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church (USA) — urging Christians not "to selectively divest from certain companies whose products are used by Israel." They argue that a "one-sided approach" on divestment resolutions, even the selective divestment from companies profiting from the occupation proposed by the Methodists and Presbyterians, "damages the relationship between Jews and Christians that has been nurtured for decades."
While they are no doubt well-meaning, I believe that the rabbis and other opponents of divestment are sadly misguided. My voice will always be raised in support of Christian-Jewish ties and against the anti-Semitism that all sensible people fear and detest. But this cannot be an excuse for doing nothing and for standing aside as successive Israeli governments colonize the West Bank and advance racist laws.
Almost like the calm before the storm, our morning Jurisdictional meeting had an eerily quiet tone to it. We discussed today’s upcoming elections for University Senate (Dr Kuan!) and Judicial Council (Randall!). We also started talking about specific legislation including the different Call to Action plans that are expected to take up a significant amount of our energies in the upcoming days. At this point in time though, we are still scrambling for information and trying to figure out where other delegates are organizing.
We started off the morning plenary session by having various committees providing reports and voting on consent calendar items (a very smooth process)...
There is discussion on the president of the Bishops being relieved of his or her episcopal area, and creating a full time position for that position. This was heavily debated because of the idea of the “set aside bishop” from the Call to Action. It ended up failing because of the needed ⅔s vote.
Next up were elections... after going through a long process on how to use the electronic voting machines, we finally voted for Judicial Council. Randall was selected as an alternate. Trying to figure out the maths used in selecting 6 people out of 9 halted the voting process for way too long... c’mon guys, let’s get this stuff down before we start... After the votes though, unfortunately we were not able to get Dr Kuan elected to the University Senate...
We then had quite an extensive discussion on if Bishops should have term limits.
Bishop Schoall presided over the afternoon session. He was apparently given a pair of binoculars so that he can see the people in the back. We are continuing our debate on Bishop term limits. Cal-Nev is starting to find our voice, Pastor Odette and I have both spoken on the floor. The petition needed a ⅔s vote but lost.
It was also exciting to see legislation that we worked on in our committee and sub-committee on the floor. Both our chair and sub-committee chair represented our decisions very well. It was very good to see them standing up passionately for the members of our committee.
On the way to dinner, I stopped to thank retired Bishop Susan Hassinger, who was the parliamentarian for the committee that I was in, because she helped me work through a difficult issue. I ended up in a very enlightened conversation with her about spiritual development and how to excite stagnant churches. I am hoping our paths cross again!
We had our Cal-Nev delegate dinner tonight! It was so nice to be able to see all the familiar faces, especially of those that are in the background working hard as pages, monitors and observers. They sure do have a hard job and are monumental in not only helping the General Conference run smoothly, but in supporting us in representing you. Thank you for all you do! As a delegation, we may not agree on everything, but we try to support each other on issues that we are passionate about. It’s great to see our unity through diversity.
On a personal note, I am preparing heavily to speak on a couple of the issues that I am passionate about. Having a tiny little bit of floor time this morning hopefully got out my stage jitters and my legs will be sturdy for when I speak!
We had our second holy conferencing session tonight on the worldwide church. Dr Kwan, Emily, Pastor Motoe and I sat with our tablemates from the Virginia conference. I can’t speak for any other table, but I felt like there was a lot of good discussion on what it means to be United Methodist and how we can “get along”. Our brothers and sisters from Virginia are strong in spirit and have a beautiful way of sharing story. If you are ever in Virginia, visit Journey UMC in Amelia, VA... they are doing church in a new exciting way!
I will be attending the youth workers dessert later tonight with some of my fellow youth workers and afterwards, meeting with some of the young delegates on how we would like to continue to organize as we go forward through this week. At the last meeting I asked the young people there to think about what they would like to take back to their local congregations from General Conference. I am looking forward to sharing all of the excitement and maybe even some of the boring stuff with all of you when I get home.
Please pray for us by name as we have a lot more work to do this week! Thank you!
Day 6 (4/29) – Sabbath Day (Rev. Sifa Hingano & Mrs. Katherine Kim)
Today is the day of rest. It has been exciting General Conference since the opening and today is an opportunity to relax and sleep. Some of the delegates attended the commissioning of deaconesses and missionaries. We are ready to sum up today with African University Choir. My Genesis group left last Friday, and now I am a free man. Thank you for all of your support and prayers. I am sure that these dancers did the best to represent the California/Nevada annual conference (Rev. Sifa Hingano – interviewed by Motoe Yamada)
We took rest (there was no 7am meetings). General Commission Status and Roles of Women worship service was powerful. Found out UMW and 40 years of history of great things. Had lunch with Filipino group. Then went to Tampa Korean United Methodist Church with all Koreans including Korean delegates and two bishops and had a great dinner. (Mrs. Katherine Kim– interviewed by Motoe Yamada)
35 young adults went to Clearwater beach to have a communion worship service. We stood around the labyrinth, sang, prayed, read scriptures, shared the communion and walk on the Labyrinth. In the late afternoon Emily Allen spoke at the rally (by Mosaic) and please see the video below. She did an excellent job (she challenges us to talk to young adults to find out why they do not come to church and what we can do about it!)
Saturday is normally an off day. It’s a day to catch up on things around the home, to relax or do something fun. Not when you are at General Conference 2012. Being at the 7am Western Jurisdictional meeting to hear what happened the day before in other legislative committees and be made of aware of what to watch for, means being up at 6am.
People’s energy is draining. It has been a long week. There is some anxiety about getting our legislative committee work done by tonight’s 9:30pm deadline. There is no worship service tonight which allows for us to complete our work. I will miss having a worship service tonight. In the past the worship services were in the morning then we went to our legislative committee. I didn’t think I was going to like this change but the evening services have been powerful and a great way to end the day.
Today was like being locked away. Our committee worked most of the day. Two of the subcommittees finished our work early. But the eighteen-member restructure subcommittee was where the action was. When they finished their work at 7:15pm, after a short dinner break, the full committee gathered to vote on petitions. But everyone was waiting for the restructure proposal. There was standing room only as maybe 200 people gathered to watch and listen to the restructure discussion and debate.
First came the revised Plan B document, called The Plan. It included elements from the Call to Action, the original Plan B, and the MFSA proposals as well as elements from the General Agencies petitions. Having worked for a day and a half, the subcommittee had been faithful to their work, for the most part. The proposal was voted down.
With about 15 minutes to the 9:30pm adjournment time chaos and power plays took over. The Call to Action/IOT people brought a 49-page proposal called “Uniting Our Church for Vital Congregations.” They were allowed to make a ten minute presentation. It was voted down. With seven minutes to go a motion was made to by the Call to Action group to reconsider the original Plan B document. That was ruled out of order because it had never to voted on; it had been substituted the first day. In a last ditch effort to bring something before the plenary on Monday, we voted on the MFSA proposal that had never been voted on. It was defeated. After three days of work we came up empty with nothing to show for our work.
You can’t be smarter than God. Did I say in the middle of these last few minutes half the lights in the room went out? As someone said, “We were literally working in the dark.” I was waiting for lighting to strike. If we would have voted on the revised Plan B document, I believe everybody would have “won”, though not getting everything they wanted. Scripture tells us in order to bear fruit the branches must be connected to the vine. We were not connected. We were not the church and we did not bear fruit. Hopefully, we repent, are prayerful over the weekend, call upon the Holy Spirit and do better next week. I hope the other legislative committees did better.
I am sad and distraught. I feel our good work and holy conversation was on the verge of doing something great until those last 15 minutes changed everything. I remain hopeful.
I am looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow and seeing my in-laws who will make the hour drive to Tampa. I pray each delegate, page, marshal, volunteer, staff person and all others associated with General Conference have a relaxing Sunday, a time for worship and are refreshed and renewed for the week ahead.
Blessings our your Sunday worship,
Dale M. Weatherspoon
It's day 4 here at General Conference. Like yesterday, we begun with our Western Jurisdiction meeting at 7am (4am PST). Gayle and I are making the 10 minute (almost-brisk =)) walk from our hotel room. The walk and the company is refreshing. We got to hear from the different committees. Although we don't have delegates sitting in all the committees, we are very blessed to have observers and reserves sitting in all 13 committees. The Western Jurisdiction is very alert and watching out for each other.
Following our meeting, delegates, observers and friends headed to their committees. Rev. Dale is in General Administration with Gayle Shearman and Katherine Kim observing. Most of the Call to Action and Interim Operations Report, which deals with structure, is in this committee. They were able to divide into sub-committees and have set timelines to help them get through petitions efficiently.
(SIDEBAR: Petitions have been assigned to different legislative committees. These petitions are being "perfected" so to say in these committees. Next week, some of these petitions will be presented on the "voter floor/bar", where the entire General Conference will discuss and vote. Our own Rev. Linda and her committee will take care of passed petitions.)
Dr. Jeffrey is in Ministry & Higher Education. I was able to meet with Rev. Kristin Stoneking who sat in this committee. Care for the Theological Seminaries and other petitions are here. Rev. Odette is in Global Ministries, where the resolutions from the Inter-Ethnic Stratey Development Group passed, PINCUM (Pacific Islander resolution) Korean Ministry and Asian American Ministries. Randall Miller is in Church & Society B - I haven't heard much from here, yet - but stay tuned!
Emily Allen is the secretary in Discipleship. They completed their work just before lunch. I sat with Emily in this committee and I was very impressed. The chair, vice chair and Emily were very gracious, clear in their explanations and kept to the rules. The 2 sub-chairs were also great leaders. One of them is a young adult - and she kept the committee awake. Overall, the entire legislation was efficient, thoughtful and willing to hear each other and learn together. Some petitions hadn't gone through sub-committees yet, and the chair asked that the petitions be presented to the committee in order to save time, and was passed. It was great to see the work in discipleship. My favorite part: lots of laughter!
After lunch, I headed over to the Conferences committee with Yoshiro. (Yes, I naturally migrated to the young people. =)) I am excited about that committee because Mele Maka is a sub-committee chair - she is from Cal-Pac, female and Tongan! It's amazing. The petition to disband the Western Jurisdiction was unanimously voted down and without discussion!
I was able to spend time with other Pacific Islanders during lunch - Rev. Maile & Latu Koloto, Monalisa Tuitahi, Rev, Sifa Hingano, Rev. Eddie Kelemeni, Inoke Qurau and more. It is truly a great thing to see other Pacific Islanders. It is like I have lots of mothers, fathers and siblings looking out for me. I can't wait until a Pacific Islander is consecrated Bishop! There are still more of us floating around supporting delegates, gathering information from General Agencies and checking out books, robes and gifts at Cokesbury. We have others like Rosa Washington-Olson as a head page and Mark Wharf who organized the marshalls and pages. We are so blessed to have Rev. Motoe in Independent Commissions (which finished their work), Rev. Greg and Susan Griffin tracking petitions in different committees. You've elected a GREAT delegation!
Tonight's worship was centered around an Act of Repentance toward Native Americans. It began with the Bishops introducing worship. Dr. Tinkler, a Native American, spoke truth about history and how we need to work together, that this is just the beginning of a journey toward repentance. Dr. Tinkler told a joke about a woman "getting wine for her husband". Her friend replies, "good trade". He follows with "bad trades" - saying, "Jesus for their land was a bad trade". It followed with the Council of Bishops asking for forgiveness, and then the delegates and visitors received stones that "are screaming for justice". It was a great "first step" to a lifetime of continuous conversations. We still have lots of work to do - work to do together! - Not just repenting against indigenous people, but repenting for the pain we cause any and all persons - pain from slavery, pain from racism, sexism, from inflammatory language, from being an exclusive church and more. There is work to do!). We ended with Marcus Briggs-Cloud (who I went to Student Forum with) singing with the worship team - "heleluyan".
Following worship, I met with other young people - young people who care about the church and our voices. We are working to make an effective presence here at General Conference, so stay tuned.
I know you must be bored from allll this information, but I am very excited and grateful for this experience. Thank you to all of you in the California-Nevada conference for believing in and praying for this delegation. Although, we are making decisions for the best interest of our conference, we are really doing our best to make decisions that will help our conference carry out our mission - to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World.
Please continue following our blog, posting on our Facebook and following our tweets. It is a great thing knowing that we have an energetic, vibrant, caring and loving cloud of witnesses supporting us back home.
For all things GC2012, also head to http://gc2012.umc.org
(Someone might need to call me at 3amPST to get me up for our meeting...Lol)
Randall Miller, chair of the California-Nevada delegation to General Conference, speaking at the General Conference briefing, January, 2012.
It was announced at tonight's (Thurs. April 26) General Conference plenary session, that Randall Miller, chair of the California-Nevada delegation to General Conference, is a Judicial Council nominee.
Day One of Legislative Work
The day began with our first Western Jurisdiction delegation meeting. We are a small delegation, but dynamic and strong, 32-member strong! As we introduced ourselves and talked about the leadership of our legislative committees, it was clear that we provide leadership for the entire denomination.
Legislative committee work started today. I am in the Ministry and Higher Education Legislative Committee (of course!). Many of us were able to work with progressives across the denomination to elect a good slate of leaders, chaired by David Bard of the Minnesota Conference. I have known David for 8 years and serve with him on GBHEM. We have 180 petitions to deal with and so we are divided into 3 subcommittees, one dealing with the Ministry Study, the second with sexuality, leaves, etc., and the third with University Senate and theological education. Again, it is obvious which subcommittee I landed in!
We took on some big issues relating to the University Senate. The petition submitted by the Council of Bishops to move the Commission on Theological Education from the University Senate has been rejected in subcommittee. So have the petitions to remove Claremont School of Theology from the list of the 13 United Methodist seminaries.
There was active participation from Central Conference delegates. They understood the issues and helped us to understand what they would mean within their contextual realities. The debate was passionate at times but very respectful.
The evening plenary began with the introduction of our Concordat and Affiliated Churches with the Methodist family. We relate with 4 Concordat Churches and 19 Affiliated Churches (see ¶¶ 570-574). I saw 2 of my seminary classmates who are now Presidents of the annual conferences in Malaysia and Singapore.
Mark Miller, a lay delegate from the Greater New Jersey Conference, requested a moment of personal privilege from the presiding bishop. Mark, joined by a number of our glbt delegates, spoke about the pain and hurt brought about by the holy conversation on sexuality. He called our leadership into accountability for their failed leadership in leading those conversations. A conversation meant to build bridges and understanding ended up causing more hurt and pain for our glbt sisters and brothers. Mark is the assistant professor of church music at Drew Theological School. I love Mark!
Randall Miller and I have been nominated for the Judicial Council and the University Senate respectively. The election for these two bodies will take place on Monday. The day ended with evening worship and one of our western bishops, Bishop Bob Hoshibata, preached about healing and inclusiveness. We are reminded once again that we are a church in need of healing. There are glimpses of hope but there is still much pain. I pray that God will move hearts and minds in this conference.
12 - Ministry and Higher Education
2 - Church and Society 2
3 - Conferences
4 - Discipleship
7 - General Administration
8 - Global Ministries
I have been in Tampa for a three day gathering of Conference Lay Leaders. We have been lead in bible study these past two days on the proverbs 3: 5-6 scripture from the message:
Trust God from the bottom of your heart, Don't try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go He's the one who will keep you on track.
Our dynamic study of these words was led by Rev Dr Joy Moore, the Associate Dean of Church Relations and Homiletics and the Practice of Ministry at Duke Divinity School and they seem quite apropos given the two weeks ahead of us.
Dr. Marcia McFee led 4700 United Methodists into a pageantry of opening worship and communion to move beyond the orientations and celebrate the start of the 2012 General Conference – see her picture above. Bishop Larry Goodpaster preached on his text for the 50 days of prayer for General Conference – Mark 1:14-20 inviting us to “go” like Matthew did – Immediately. We hope many of you have found the links to the live feeds of many of the presentations and worship services. Tonight Randall Miller was among those leading in the organizational procedures for our days together and Rev. Motoe has posted a clever shot of him as well in the header pictures.
The Episcopal, Laity and Young People’s addresses come tomorrow (Wed, Apr 25) in the 8 am to 10 am (yes I know that is 5 am to 7 am for all of you at home) and Evening Worship tomorrow is 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm (5:30 pm to 6:30 pm at home) which will include the dancers from Genesis Church, San Jose.
There have been several resources for prayer and reflection leading up to General Conference - I am including links if any of you would like to follow along during these days of the conference. In preparation for this gathering several resources have been created to guide us into and through this historic time as we look at the nature of the world wide church, a study on ministry and how we can move towards focus on vital congregations and an institution that has the flexibility and nimbleness to move into the next decades of change that are anticipated for our churches and our world. The link for the 50 Days of Prayer for General Conference its direct link is http://50daysofprayer.upperroom.org Young People have made videos of the 50 Days of Prayer (several featuring young adults from our conference including our reserve delegate – Delilah Fakalata) that are available on www.youtube/user/YoungUMC and there is the California-Nevada Conference Delegations facebook page calnev@GC2012 you can access from your Facebook search window. Bishop Schnase has also prepared a 30 day devotional for General Conference - its direct link www.ministrymatters.com/30Days.
While all of these series began well before General Conference it is never too late to join United Methodists' around the world in prayer and reflection - especially while we are in session April 24 - May 4 in Tampa, FL. We all really appreciate the posts and tweets with the prayers from churches and friends across our conference.
There have been many steps of preparation to bring more of an atmosphere of conversation around the future of the denomination rather than focusing primarily on the legislation changes within the Book of Discipline which guides decision making at all levels of our church, let us pray that it can be so.
Grace & Peace
Arrived to Tampa, Florida! (by Motoe Yamada)
After two plane rides from Sacramento, I am in Tampa! Many of us left the house in darkness (so early!) and got to Florida in the late afternoon.
At the Denver airport (which is a transfer airport), I heard my name and someone was waving at me. It was one of the young clergy delegates from Smokey mountain conference who used to work together on the United Methodist Student Movement. At the Denver gate for the Tampa flight, there were at least 10 United Methodists heading to the General Conference (all are from the Western Jurisdiction – Smokey mountain, Montana, Cal/Nev, Cal/Pac (Hawaii).
At the Tampa airport, local United Methodists were waiting for us! The volunteers have red vests so they can be easily identified. They help me to get a shuttle for my hotel.
All meetings of the General Conference will take place at the Tampa Convention Center and most of the participants are staying at the nearby hotels. The highest temperature was 72 and the lowest was 55 today in Tampa. (it was 95 yesterday in Sacramento so I felt a bit cold)
After settling into the hotel, I went to the convention center to register. I saw Ms. Delilah Fakalata, Rev. Greg Bergquist, Rev. John Oda, Rev. Karen Stoffers-Pugh and Rev. Linda Caldwell from Cal.Nev.
Tomorrow, there will be various meetings, orientation and briefings.
“Orientation – The act or process of acquainting delegates and other official participants with the processes and procedures of how the General Conference functions and the role of participants within the work of the General Conference.
Briefing – The act or instance of giving instruction or preparatory information to delegates and other official participants relating to legislative matters coming before the General Conference.” (quote from the GC agenda)
The briefings will start at 9am then spread to three different groups later (Young Adults, Racial Ethnic, and Women – a young racial ethnic woman has to make a decision to go to one!)
In the afternoon, there will be orientation for first time delegates.
At 4pm, the General Conference will start with the opening worship! The president of Council of Bishops (Bishop Goodpastor) will be preaching! Our California/Nevada Dr. Marcia Macfee is leading the General Conference Worship Services. After dinner, there will be Evening Plenary.
There are thousands of people for the General Conference! 988 delegates should be here for the General Conference (including delegates from Africa, Europe, and Asia) [-Western Jurisdiction brings 32 delegates (Cal/Nev – 6 total delegates)] 5000 (delegate reserves, volunteers, national staff, observers) people are expected to be there.
What an exciting time!
We pray that God will guide us to make right decisions.
“Make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the World!” – the General Conference 2012 Theme
Please keep us in your prayer (Join us for the 50 days of prayer). If you are at the General Conference and would like to get meeting notice, etc from the cal/nev conference, please email your name, cell and church name to firstname.lastname@example.org
Traveling has already begun. Safe travels to all those heading over to Tampa for General Conference. Wishing you lots of rest before all the work begins.
All those tuning in from home, stay connected:
Facebook: search: calnev@gc2012
Twitter: @cnumcdelegation #gc2012
Or download the iPhone/Android application.
There will be live streaming, you can follow legislations, go through pictures and more!
You are invited to hear
Reflections on a Journey to the
West Bank and Israel.
Monday, April 23, 2012
Tampa Convention Center
430 - 530 pm
Bishop Violet Fisher, Bishop Deborah Kiesey, Bishop Jane Middleton,
Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, Bishop Hope Morgan Ward.
SPONSORED BY the General Board of Church & Society
Questions? Contact Linda Bales Todd, email@example.com, or 703-282-6254
the Cal-Nev Dinner will be taking place from 5-7 PM in Convention Center Rooms 5 & 7 on Monday, April 30th. There's enough food for 35-40 people and everyone from Cal-Nev (delegates, reserves, advocates, etc.) are invited to attend. So the pass the word around.
Fifty-seven persons (57) were elected chairs of U.S. annual conference delegations to the 2012 General Conference of The United Methodist Church, according to delegate data supplied by General Conference.
Leading a delegation is considered an honor, which some conferences reserve for one person (often alternating between a clergyperson and layperson every four years). Others, name a layperson and a clergyperson as co-heads.
While these methods for selecting leaders do limit the analysis of the chairs based upon status (clergy/lay), the data do provide opportunities to analyze the chairs based upon other demographic data to see who becomes chosen and who does not by annual conferences.
Clergy still outnumber laity 34 to 23 as chairs of delegations to the 2012 General Conference (see Table 1). Only the Western Jurisdiction has more laity than clergy chairs; the Northeastern Jurisdiction is evenly divided between laity and clergy.
Of the 57 U.S. chairs, 32 are male (56%) and the 25 are female (44%). Coincidentally, the male-female percentage of chairs is exactly the same as the overall U.S. jurisdictional representation of males and females to the 2012 General Conference. Two of the five jurisdictions—North Central and Western—have more female chairs than male chairs (see Table 2).
Clergymen (24) and laywomen (15) have the largest representation of the delegation chairs (see Table 3). Clergymen have twice as many chairs as clergywomen (10) and laywomen have almost twice as many chairs as laymen (8). It should also be noted that the number of clergy male chairs (24) is just one less than that of laywomen and clergywomen combined (25).
Fifteen (15) of the 57 U.S. chairs are persons of color (see Table 4). The 15 represent 26% of the total number of chairs, which gives persons of color better representation as chairs than as actual delegates, who have 22% overall representation. The Northeastern Jurisdiction has half of its chairs as persons of color. All the other jurisdictions have between 18% (North Central Jurisdiction) to 29% (Western Jurisdiction) persons of color as chairpersons.
There are African-American chairs in each of the five jurisdictions. Other ethnicities are not well represented among the jurisdictions.
Of the 15 persons of color, four are women: two laywomen and two clergywomen. The 11 men are divided into seven clergy and four laity (see Table 3). Women, who are persons of color, represent just 7% of the total chairs of delegations.
Since clergy have the largest representation of the delegation chairs, it should come as no surprise that the top two occupations are pastor and district superintendent. “Retired” is the third largest occupation and it reflects the overall make-up of laity who attend General Conference who need two weeks to dedicate to the work of the church.
Being elected chairperson of a delegation does bring with it the pressures of leadership and administration. However, one of the benefits of being elected chair is usually the ability to have the first choice of legislative committee assignment. The Global Ministries Legislative Committee is the most popular for chairpersons, with nine chairs. Ministry and Higher Education and Financial Administration are next popular, with seven chairs each. All the legislative committees have at least one delegation chair with the exception of one: independent commissions.
Chairing an annual conference delegation comes with considerable responsibility and, frankly, considerable prestige and influence. Clergy chairpersons are often endorsed as episcopal candidates and, subsequently, are elected as bishops. That prestige and responsibility is still largely in the hands of men and white U.S. people, so it begs the question, “Is The United Methodist Church preparing and elevating leaders to relate to the people of God now and into the future?”
During this critical time of the church, there will be lots of opportunities to share your views or comments. At the Pre-General Conference Briefing, UMCOMM shared some tips on how to address controverisal issues, and some Interview DO's and DON'T's. Check out the pictures!