Friday, April 25, 2008

Speeches and Committees

All morning we heard addresses that told us the way forward, with the 3 Simple Rules, the 7 pathways (to somewhere), and the four mission emphases. We were basically told that if we could stop the internal focus and the bickering among ourselves then we had the resources to actually transform our world. It made me start thinking in terms of "Team Methodist" again. We just need to get on with the business of making a difference in our world.

No one ever really crossed the line to say we would actually make disciples of Jesus Christ, at least not until Lyn Powell gave the Laity address after lunch. But several got close. For instance, Bishop Felton May (of all people) did say, "A distracted denomination, unfocused, will not succeed in making disciples of Jesus Christ." Also, there was a stirring litany of goals for 2012, measurable goals for the four emphases. One spoke to a certain number of new churches , half in ethnic communities, but none spoke to the number of new disciples for Jesus Christ.

Most of the proposed goals dealt with making a measurable difference in our world, addressing poverty, injustice and disease. For example, we applauded the Global Board of Missions decision to send out 50 new missionaries -who were described as medical missionaries to address poverty diseases. That's great, and can and will make a real difference in our world. But I wonder if it will be OK for these missionaries to tell the people about Jesus and actually be evangelistic as well. No one wants to say that, it seems. But if we don't offer Christ, how are we as the Church any different than a relief agency, or the Peace Corps?

Some of the videos shared about particular and different UM ministries with the poor were wonderful and made you proud. After awhile it was just too much information. However, we were revived with the Young People's address, the first one ever. It was done by a team of youth who alternated speaking back and forth: Matt Lockett, Rebecca Farnum, Kira Volkova (Russian), Andrew Craig, Jason Rathrod, and Rev. Annie Rigo. Very well done and reminded us from a youth perspective that they want to be involved in changing our world for the better.

At lunch I grabbed a few shots of people and unusual buildings. If I was smart I'd post them on Flickr or something. But instead here's just a couple.

In the afternoon we began our legislative committees. We elected officers and broke for supper. Returning after supper we were to create sub-committees and elect chairpersons. The first order of business in the Higher Education and Ministry Legislative Committee was dealing with the recommendation from the 2004-2008 Ministry Study Committee to refer all petitions relating to ordination and changes in status be referred to a new study committee that would report to the 2012 HE&M Legislative Committee. After several speeches we defeated that petition, meaning our Leg Com will have a lot of petitions to deal with. But that's OK. We need to begin working on them now and not just postpone to a future legislative group.
We have a group of seminary students in the observer section who are the Spotted Owls. (see pic). They are there to remind us to do something to help increase the number of young clergy, or else they will become an endangered species in the UM Church, just like spotted owls.
I am on the sub com dealing with Local Pastors. That should keep us busy. All in all a good day, long (we didn't finish until 11 PM) but good. Still the hard work is ahead of us.

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