Today was full. The Missouri delegation met at 7:30 this morning, and I got out of a meeting at about 7:30 this evening. A twelve hour day.
(Now I know that people who have done this before are thinking, "Shoot, that's nothing." Yes, I know y'all used to stay up til midnight finessing the finer points of parliamentary procedure. But nevertheless, to day was indeed full.)
The big event of the morning was our decision not to pass "Rule 44." All else aside, I am deeply disappointed for the people who worked so hard on the proposal. Four years of time and energy, dedicated to an idea that we might actually be able to talk with one another more naturally than Robert's Rules will allow, numerous meetings, countless hours, research, discussion, writing, rewriting, studying models ... all for naught.
And to make matters worse, what this group was doing was in direct response to instruction they had received at the last General Conference, 4 years ago. So what happened was, in 2012 we said, "Hey, will you guys please work on a different way we might talk with one another?" And then in 2016 we said, "Never mind. Just kidding. We didn't really mean that." And it's gone.
I cannot imagine how our sisters and brothers who created "Rule 44" must be processing today's vote. They must be devastated.
And what was the problem? In a word, trust. Rather the lack thereof.
Into the weeds of Rule 44: After the small group conversations, there would have been a six-person "facilitation group" whose purpose is to compile all of the summaries of the conversations and create legislation for the full conference to vote on. Because of the deep suspicion of this group of six, like it was some imagined "power play" of some kind, we killed the idea. Never mind that the process by which these six would have been chosen was completely transparent, and the result of their work would have been debated and voted on by the entire body anyway.
Nope - it's a power play. We don't trust them. Who are these people anyway? How do we know what their agenda might be? Seems fishy to me!
So that kind of clouded a lot of the rest of the day.
Though there was much to celebrate as well. The people of the Methodist Church, face to face, are amazing people. I met so many super cool people today, starting with David on the train in the morning. David is a Swahili translator at the Conference, he is serving in Dallas as a chaplain at Methodist Hospital. And he was just the first. Methodists are in general gracious, friendly, happy, spirit-filled people.
We just don't function well in large groups.
There's more to tell, but I'm sleepy. I'd like to write about new worship ideas that I'm pondering. I'd like to write about how big plans with broad implications get divided up into different committees so the people working on them can't see the whole picture. I'd like to talk about the young adults in the legislative committee Googling a document someone was referencing to discover that it was a 13 year old document and pretty much out of date.
I'd like to talk about the brilliant idea that a handful of youngish Methodist pastors came up with at Rock Bottom while we were eating supper. But actually you'll probably read about that one in the news tomorrow!
Seriously though - I love my denomination. I love my church. I love the people called Methodist. We have some dysfunction, but what family doesn't. We are a mess, but isn't it a holy mess, after all?