What a day in the Ministry and Higher Ed Legislative committee. Some ground-breaking decisions were forwarded to the plenary session and now we’ll see what happens. The biggest perhaps was a petition to give qualifying Local Pastors the right to vote in General, Jurisdictional and Central Conference elections. The qualifying level would be completion of their educational requirements and completion of two years of service under appointment.
We voted to increase mandatory retirement from 70 to 72. We forwarded a change to the probationary membership (which we renamed to provisional membership) from 3 years to 2 years for provisional elders and provisional deacons.
We approved a measure that would make it easier for Bishops and the cabinet to exit ineffective pastors. In my opinion it didn’t not undermine “guaranteed appointments” as some were concerned about, but simply provided an avenue to address some problem pastors. We reaffirmed the prohibition on performing same sex unions with a 49-34 written ballot vote. A reporter showed up taking pictures as we voted on that one. Interestingly that’s the only issue he hung around for when we were dealing with some major changes for the church.
It looked to me that even without a lecture on inclusiveness our committee heard from many areas, international, lay and young adult. Probably the quietest were the lay women. I can remember seeing them at the mike only 3 or 4 times. However, the sense of working together as a team really developed in the committee today. Our chairperson did a great job fostering that. When we gathered at 8 PM (while everyone else was attending the “Night Under the Stars” areas entertainment event) she began the session by throwing out bags of candy and chocolates to us, then shooting us with a water gun/rifle reminding us to “remember our baptism.” It was great, alleviating the weariness and taking us into a long session with renewed vigor.
On a final note, someone took a picture of the two most astute, focused, globally minded, inclusive, and good looking delegates. We couldn’t get a hold of that picture, but here’s one of Kathy James and me during a break.