Thursday, July 17, 2008

Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference

The SEJ officially opened yesterday morning with Holy Communion. Then there were organizational actions and then a long service of prayers, silence and discernment. Finally we took the first ballot right before lunch. Before the day ended we'd heard back from 5 ballots and took a sixth before adjourning for the night.

The front runner for the one episcopal slot is Paul Leland of North Carolina. South Carolina's nominee, Tim McClendon, has been in second place on each ballot. Now the ones receiving only a few votes are starting to bow out. That could mean big shifts in votes, or it could bring an election pretty quickly.

We spent Tuesday hearing from all the nominees and having time for the delegations to individually interview them. But once the Conference and voting begins it is just up to how individuals choose to vote, or move their vote. Several people ask me, "How is such and such a conference delegation voting?" or "Who is that conference supporting?" No one knows the answer to such questions. Even if noted leaders of delegations say they want to support a particular person, each delegate has their own private vote.

There's been some questions raised by one of The Methoblog bloggers about the amount of politics involved and especially the use of web sites for nominees. Actually, I think we have a good balance of getting information about candidates out, but also entering a covenant that self-restricts our political maneuverings. We could always use more information about the nominees, but what our process provides can help a delegate discern leadership, if the delegate is willing to put the time in to pay attention and read the information provided.

We also have to deal with a thorny issue with the reorganization plan for the SEJ Adminstration and ministries. The idea is for each agency to become self-supporting. That may be fine for those agencies that can generate income (such as the Lake Assembly), but I wonder what will happen to the great Youth Ministry of the SEJ, or the Native American ministry SEJANAM, for example?

Even if we elect a bishop today, the Conference will continue through Saturday's Consecration Service. That's OK, I brought work and reading to catch up on, and this is a beautiful place.

1 comment:

roadtripray said...

Great post. I was wondering about whether the delegates actually got to ask questions and such. As I posted on the other blog, I don't like politicking, but I do like information to use to make a decision on.

I wonder if we could do something prior to the next quadrennium at the annual conference level to allow a "mini website" for each nominee for jurisdictional and general conference? It could even be restricted to a fixed number of words in response to a set of prompts to avoid any overt politicking, but enough so AC delegates could feel like they know a little more about their choices.