Saturday, May 3, 2008

Nous Avons Fini!!

Ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to announce that the 2008 General Conference of the United Methodist Church process every single petition brought before legislation was left untouched.'s the really exciting news...we finished by 11:15 pm! I don't think that anything too major was passed. We tried to allow deacons in certain circumstances to administer the sacraments (ie, hospital chaplains), but that didn't work. Laity are now allowed to take non-perishable pre-blessed sacraments around to churches; this will be most used in places like Alaska and the Phillipines where the geography and population densities make it difficult for the pastors to circulate through their charges in short cycles. Some churches will have lay preachers nearly every Sunday and see an actual pastor only once a year or so. We want people to be able to celebrate communion more often than that, hence the change.

After our final piece of legislation (accompanied by many, many cheers), Bishop Gregory Palmer, the new president of the Council of Bishops, preached in closing worship. The service was powerful but brief. Bishop Palmer's sermon deserved a lot more cheering, clapping, and "amen"-ing than it was just too late. People just wanted to leave. But he did get a standing ovation, and I think people were really glad they had stayed.

And so there it is...GC08 is over. I'm probably going to have serious separation issues in the morning. I've come to really love it. I suppose there's always next's only four more years!

Friday, May 2, 2008

The Biggest News of the Day

General Conference has just approved a constitutional amendment: ALL are welcome to the Church and, after taking vows of membership, eligible to become members. No more list of who is or is not included (ie, race, gender, social status, etc.). ALL!!!
We also amended our definition of family, affirming our hope that all families be composed of two loving parents. Nothing about gender is mentioned either way.

A Wedding

A lesbian wedding took place near the Convention Center today at 1 o’clock; all delegates were invited to attend. A group of friends and I had a lunch reservation, so we did not attend the wedding; however, we did stop in at the reception for a few minutes during the dinner break.

Plowing, Baby!

And we’re plowing on through legislation. A motion was made to accept the committee’s recommendation on all legislation with ten or fewer votes; there were attempts to remove several items, only one of which went through. We are coming up with more and more creative ways to get legislation through quickly. Entertaining, sometimes effective, sometimes not. But we will get through it…and it honestly might not even be all that late when we get out!


Sitting in Starbucks…have to pay for wireless here, though, so I’m typing in Word and will post it when I get back to the Convention Center. An hour left of dinner break…we really should have cut dinner break shorter. Oh well.

And Now We Have Another Mean Thing Said...

Someone spoke about designating 33% of the UMCom publicity funds go to radio ministry in Africa. He used the word "illiterate" to describe the Africans and someone spoke against his use of language. We took a moment of silence to reflect on that, and then he tried to explain that the president of Liberia told us she was dealing with a 60% illiteracy rate.
But that's not actually what got to me. In his speech promoting Christian radio in Africa, he used the phrase "save them from Islam." It seemed a bit over the top to me. I know that sme people believe that Christ and only Christ can save souls, etc., so I suppose that's where he was coming from. But it was stated in a very degrading manner that I felt to be inappropriate and unnecessary.

Reports and Introductions!

There is NOTHING in this world more exhilerating than sitting here right now. We've had introductions of the worship, translating, and secretarial staff. (Saying thank you is extremely important and valid, I have no problem with that, and it was nice to see the faces of some of the folks "backstage.") Those were fine. But we moved instantly from them into the GCFA (Finance and Administration) report. An economist explained to us how they find the baseline for the budget. I suppose this helps to explain to people and ease fears, but was it seriously necessary? How about a worksheet we could read on our own. And now we're doing the endless reports that are simple vote-ups. They're incessant, but necessary. So I'm pressing "1" for yes every two minutes and typing this. See, you can share my boredom! How lucky you are. But wait, the bishop has become more intelligent; we are know raising our hands to adopt. Takes less time, but takes my hands off the keyboard for a longer period of time. we just had to suspend the rules to consider one. That's exciting. I really am going to stop typing this now...I'll check back in with you after lunch; hopefully I'll have something worthwhile to say.