"I have to go down to sign some books. I need you to sit in for me while I'm gone." That's what Emanuel said to me to let me know I'd be experiencing my first ever participation in the actual work of the General Conference of the United Methodist Church.
He went to get the form from Brian, brought it back to me and I gave it to the usher. Then I took my seat.
And do you know the first thing I thought, sitting there? I thought, "I really wish I could tell Daddy Monk about this." My grandfather would have been so excited, and wanted to hear every detail of my time working in the Faith and Order Committee. He was a man who dearly loved God and dearly loved the United Methodist Church, and I always wanted to make him proud.
So with him looking over my shoulder, I focused on the work at hand.
Petition Number: 60660-FO-para. 120-G; Hedglin, Chelsey - Nashville, TN, USA.
It was a petition to change the mission statement of the church. My first thought, "There's no possible way this is going to pass."
The new statement started out: "The mission of the church is to create a community relating people to God and to one another through Jesus Christ by making them disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world." (The words in italics are the ones the petition would have added.)
Someone moved to amend the petition by deleting these words. We talked about that, then voted. I voted for that amendment. The amendment passed 25-4.
But the petition wasn't over; there was more. The second sentence of the mission statement would be changed to read, "Local churches and extension ministries of the Church provide the most significant arenas through which disciple making occurs. (Again, the words in italics are the words the petitioner added.)
My first thought, again, was, "No way this ever passes. It makes the statement messy and unclear. And it really isn't true, either."
But a couple of people spoke for it. A couple of people spoke against it. The ones who spoke against it said pretty much what I was thinking, so I didn't say anything. Then we voted, and the petition passed 16-13, with 1 abstention. I was one of the 13 "no" votes.
(Now what that means is that the subcommittee chair will report to the full committee that the subcommittee has voted to recommend approval of the petition by a 16-13 vote. Frankly I do not see it passing out of the full committee, but we'll see.)
At this point, Emanuel was back in the room, and we switched out.
But I was there for a full 20 minutes, from the introduction of a petition, through an amendment, and through the final vote itself. Which was all pretty cool, to be honest with you. I actually felt really excited about being there and a part of the process. I was in the middle of the holy mess, and I kind of liked it!