Monday, April 30, 2012

Claremont School of Theology

The proposal to delete Claremont School of Theology from the list of approved theological schools was soundly defeated in committee. The petition has, however, been removed from the list of petitions not supported by legislative committee so that it can be brought to the plenary for further debate and consideration. In its newsletter for today, Good News has announced the intention to amend the proposal to include Boston University School of Theology, Iliff School of Theology, and Gammon School of Theology among the schools to be removed from the approved list. Keep watch. We'll let you know about developments. Frank Wulf First Clergy Reserve

Shall Bishops Have Lifetime Tenure?

The conference has been considering lifetime tenure of bishops. The proposal before us is whether to limit bishops to serving two eight year terms. The bishop would have to stand for reelection at the end of the first eight year term. Animated debate on both sides. Questions about Missional focus, episcopal effectiveness, episcopal power, and the health and well being of the bishops themselves are rising to the fore. A motion by Odette Lockwood Stewart to refer the matter to the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry and to the Connectional Table was soundly voted down. This is a proposed constitutional amendment so it requires a two-thirds majority vote. The motion got a little more than 50%, so it did not succeed. Frank Wulf

University Senate and Judicial Council

The following people were elected to the Judicial Council. Lay Members of Council: Oswald Tweh (Liberia) Beth Capen (Northeast) Lay Alternates to the Council: Sandra Lutz (Northeast) Kurt Glassco (South Central) Randall Miller (Western) Deanell Reece Tacha (South Central) W. Warren Plowden, Jr. (Southeast) Reynaldo de Villa Abdon (Philippines) Clergy Members of the Council: J. Kabamba Kiboko (Southern Congo) Dennis Blackwell (Bortheast) Clergy Alternates to the Council: Timothy Bruster (South Central) John Harnish (North Central) Susan Henry-Crowe (Southeast) Oyvind Helliesen (Norway) Jane Tews (Western) Laura Easto (Northeast) They will join the following whose terms continue for another quadrennium: Belton Joyner (Southeast) Angela Brown (Western) William Lawrence (South Central) Kathi Mahle (North Central) Ruben Reyes (Philippines) The following were elected to University Senate: Jan Love (Dean, Candler School of Theology) Kasap Owan (President, Katanga United Methodist University) William Abraham (Professor, Perkins School of Theology) Bill Arnold They will join the following who were appointed by the Council of Bishops: David McAllister-Wilson (President, Wesley Theological Seminary) Myron McCoy (President, St. Paul School of Theology) Thomas Wolfe (Dean and Vice President, Syracuse University) Helene Slessarev-Jamir (Faculty, Claremont School of Theology) Frank Wulf First Clergy Reserve
April 30, 2012 I want to add one short note to the excellent, creative and enjoyable to read "Saturday Night Live" post by Paige regarding the General Administration Legislative Committee. At the last moment with a full house (standing room only) and after lengthy consultation by the parliamentarian "poobahs" and others, it was decided there could be ONE MORE VOTE but with no debate. The chair of the committee then stated that the vote would be on the MFSA Plan. There was a stunned silence. The vote was conduced. It failed. The chair thanked everyone, especially our Cal-Pac secretary of the Legislative Committee, Leanne and the meeting was over. This morning the plenary voted to suspend the rules and a compromise plan of the original IOT group and Plan B will be printed in the Daily Christian Advocate. Someone mentioned that they were concerned that the MFSA proposal was not included in the compromise. There was no action regarding that so it was agreed that there will be a compromise version printed in the DCA. Note: The original MFSA plan was printed so in a way it is available for the delegates. A rather interesting election was just held. The motion to have a set aside bishop was defeated this morning. Norma Kehrberg Reserve Lay Delegate

Cynthia Abrams - Thoughts on Restructuring Proposals

Friends - 
Cynthia Abrams offers these reflections on the restructuring proposals:
I heard growing dissent from the African central conferences leading up to to GC who felt excluded.  In spite of this, I thought the concentrated power behind the IOT would prevail. 

My take on this is the IOT plan originators and even the other two plans to some extent, miscalculated by excluding the Central Conferences and also Racial Ethnic Constituencies from almost the entirety of the process (until the very end) in the formation of the plans.  This bred an environment for a very active opposition.

Furthermore, had the Central Conference voices been involved in the planning from the beginning their input to any plan that would have brought cultural authenticity to a structure expected to equip a rapidly growing part of the church.  If we adopt a plan that doesn't provide this, we are perpetuating a Western model that is not relevant, particularly in the African Central Conferences.
Cynthia Abrams 
Clergy Reserve Delegate & Staff for the General Board of Church & Society

Set-Aside, Full-time President of Council of Bishops

The conference is currently considering whether or not to have a full-time, set-aside president to the Council of Bishops to help the Council focus more fully and faithfully on the Church's mission. A great deal of controversy has emerged regarding costs and the centralization of power and authority. There seems to be significant fear that this step would move us too much in the direction of Roman Catholicism and the establishment of a pope-like figure at the head of the church. More when a decision is made.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Day of Rest

Today was a nice break in the hectic pace of General Conference... a day of rest when all of us got to sleep in late, eat a nice breakfast, participate in worship, do laundry, and...

Several of us took the opportunity to attend the Love Your Neighbor Coalition's worship service in the Straz Performing Arts Center in Tampa. We shared in inspiring music, convicting prayers, and communion with United Methodists from around the world.

The message for the morning was brought by Dr. James Cone of Union Theological Seminary in New York. In a sermon entitled "The Cross and the Lynching Tree," Dr. Cone reminded us that there is no resurrection without the cross. He called us to realize that Jesus' death on the cross is the promise of God to be present with all who suffer crucifixion's in our world. The gospel is not a nice story. The story of the cross is as ugly and brutal as the lynchings of black people in 19th and 20th century USA. But, "it is the story of God snatching victory out of defeat, finding life in death, transforming burning black bodies into transcendent windows for seeing the love and beauty of God."

Dr. Cone's message was challenging and hard, but it was a message that ended with hope rooted in the harsh realities of the world rather than mere sentimentalism. Hearing it brought new meaning and depth to the communion that we subsequently shared with each other. As Bishop Grant Hagiya and Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar spoke the words of institution, Dr. Cone's words continued to resound. They reminded us that the life we receive in the sacrament of communion has come at a great cost. The grace of God we receive in the sacrament must never be cheap. And the salvation to which we witness in the sacrament must never be trivialized or sentimentalized.

All in all, it was a wonderful time of renewal and revitalized hope.

Tomorrow, the work of the conference begins again in earnest. Pray for the Spirit to guide all of us through the confusion and help us to find the wisdom to make those decisions that are best for this church that we love.

Frank Wulf
First Clergy Reserve


In the midst of the chaos of competing petitions and agendas, Friday night's Act of Repentance was a time to reflect deeply on the ways we have individually and collectively participated in the ongoing oppression of Native Americans and other indigenous peoples around the world. Professor George Tinker's powerful reflections on repentance as an ongoing spiritual discipline that is continually needed to bring balance to our lives and our world struck a deep chord within my soul. As a descendant of people who immigrated to this land and participated in taking it from others... as a person who continues to benefit from the dispossession of native peoples both here and abroad... as a person who is no longer at home in the land of Germany from which my great grandparents emigrated to the United States... how do I even go about making repentance in a way that has a chance of being authentic and real? Surely, much more is required than a mere apology that makes me feel better but leaves the current unjust status quo unchanged. As George Tinker powerfully reminded us, we do not have to do this repentance alone. The native peoples of this continent are willing to walk with those of us who have come from elsewhere to find the way that is truly just and balanced. This way will be difficult. It will be fraught with danger. If we are serious about such repentance, more will be needed than one single ritual act of repentance. True repentance will require hard work. It will lead us in ways that are confusing and sometimes frightening. It may even lead us in ways that are dangerous. But, is there any work worth doing that does not? Work that stands a real chance of bringing about reconciliation will not leave us unscathed. It cannot! At the end of the act of repentance, each of us picked up a stone. I chose one that was broken and rough as a sign of the confusion and anxiety that still surrounds my own work of repentance. I hope that in time that stone may become smoother. For the time being it serves as a reminder of the work that yet needs to be done.   Frank Wulf First Clergy Reserve Delegate

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Saturday Night Live

And the Winner Is…
It was a race to the finish. The Call to Action/Interim Operation Team (CTA/IOT) plan was an odds-on favorite, with Adam Hamilton as the charismatic front man, months of advance PR, and a slick multimedia presentation.  The church is in crisis! We’re declining! We must do something about it! Here’s the answer!  It was hard to resist a buy-in, even though we all had questions and general suspicions. Suspicion might be too strong a word. No one suspects an out and out conspiracy – as though some power-mad bishop is waiting to emerge as the “set-aside bishop” and mwah-ha-ha rule the church. But people have been uneasy about a 15-member General Council for Strategy and Oversight. Even with a 45-member Center for Connectional Ministries and Advisory Board to elect them and watch over them, 15 seems like an awfully small number for a 12 million member denomination. How could our diversity possibly be taken into account in all of those decisions? People have also been uneasy about the speed of the proposed change.  
And probably a lot of other things, too, as right out of the gate, the CTA/IOT plan was running neck and neck with Plan B, a second full-out restructuring plan put together by an unofficial group of people from across the connection. Plan B seeks to correct what it sees as representation issues, liability issues that could come from consolidating assets of merged agencies, and the power of the bishops, which were somewhat enhanced in the CTA/IOT proposal. 
In the General Administration committee, Plan B was almost immediately chosen as the substitute for CTA/IOT proposal, which means that by the rules of the GC, the committee picked one of the proposals to perfect. Plan B.
The MFSA plan seems to have stayed even for a while, with some of its good ideas being adopted. Honestly, I kinda liked the MFSA plan, which skips the 15-member Council in favor of a 45 member council, groups the agencies more or less into the 4 focus group areas (can you say EMT?) and otherwise made sense to me.
So round and round they all raced this week, with subcommittees amending amendments to amendments and debating them in front of an increasingly amused and concerned audience.
But when they all rounded the corner to the home stretch (which was 9:30 tonight for everyone) it was Plan-B-With-Amendments in the lead with CTA/IOT 2 heads behind. MFSA keeping up with a steady gallop. But OH –  here comes the CTA/IOT With Amendments (aka Uniting Our Church) which spurred forward to challenge the lead. Plan B With Amendments surged forward, tripped and couldn’t finish the race. The original CTA/IOT tried to make a comeback, but was bumped by the original Plan B. You think you’re confused?  By 9:45 pm, when we walked in to see what was up in the only circus left in town, NO ONE KNEW WHAT WAS HAPPENING. Even the authoritative Twitter feed was mis-reporting.  There was no majority report, so no one could make a minority report.  

So no recommendation goes to the floor. It is sad, really, as there is no disagreement that we need change in size, flexibility, and focus. And a lot of people put in a lot of time.  However, as I understand the process, there are still ways for them to get their proposals to the floor.  Keep praying.
In other news, Church & Society B took the UMC several steps back from being advocates for Reproductive Choice – voting to remove us from the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. This will go before the plenary next week.
The Divestment Resolution from the Holy Land Task Force received some serious alteration in Financial Administration. It’s barely the same document. In its current form, it will be an excellent tool of diplomacy for better relations with the Jewish community, but isn’t close to the strong action item that was proposed.  I doubt we’ve seen the end of this one.   
Not much in the way of good news tonight. Let me try to end with some more hopeful shout-outs. Lots of Cal-Pac people are here – who knew?
* Can I say how together MFSA has been? Richard Bentley, Janet McKeithen, Mary Larsen, and a host of others have provided non-stop advocacy for international delegates and organizing for an inclusive church.
* Lisa Gay Santiago is here as the President of the National Association of Filipino American United Methodists (NAFAUM).
* Cynthia Abrams is in action as a member of our delegation and staff person for the General Board of Church & Society. Her tobacco legislation passed the Church & Society B committee tonight.
* Alice Knox of San Diego State’s Campus Ministry is here for a book signing.
* Conference Treasurer Archana Carey is here present and accounted for.
* Preston Price has his usual place on stage as part of the General Secretary’s staff.
* Past Treasurer Dan Gara also made an appearance.
* Nestor Gerente & Krista McVey are here as a pages.
* Monalisa Tu’itahi is here as a member of our delegation and director of Pacific Islander National Caucus of United Methodists.
* Ana-Haydee Urda is here as a member of our delegation and monitor for Metodistas Asociados Representado la Cause de los Hispano-Americanos (MARCHA).
* Mary Elizabeth Moore is here as a member of our delegation and as the Dean of the School of Theology at Boston University and part of the Association of United Methodist Theology Schools.
* Marjorie Suchocki is here as a member of our delegation and part of the Worldwide Church study team.
* Ran into Allison Mark monitoring for Asian-Americans.
* Saul Montiel, our GBGM Border Missionary offered a presentation.
* Saw Sione Veikoso across a crowded room.
* Saw 2 people I recognize from CFA but I don’t know their names.
* Tom Griffiths is here to offer a Judicial Council training.
* Prof. Jack Johnson, Helena Titus, and a host of CST students.
* Jerry Campbell is here as the CST President.
* Prof. Helene Slessarev-Jamir will be appointed to the University Senate. 
* Bishop Charles Jordan is here – volunteering as a helpful parliamentarian.
* Kelvin Sauls is here doing all the things he does.
* Rosemary & Bob Davis are around.
* Nan Self is doing whatever she does.
And of course, Bishop Swenson is here hanging with the other Bishops.
Your delegates – Tom, Molly, Cedric, Tricia, Mele, Ken, Jo Ann, & Leanne get a break tomorrow and then head into a challenging week of plenary sessions.
Your 1st reserve members Norma & Frank will be here all week. And your other friendly adjunct members, Mark, Tonya, and Paige are departing this weekend (or early next week).
It’s a party, y’all.  If you like your party with plenty of parliamentary procedure.
I move that we rock on.
Stay hopeful,

Liminal Space - Saturday

Liminal Space – Saturday

Hi friends  -

Me again – you may have to personally bug your favorite delegate for a blog entry. They’re in the thick of it now, especially since several are in leadership positions.

If you’re following the twitter feed or Daily Christian Advocates, you’ll have seen some of these updates. Quick review with some personal comments:

* This just in: In Church & Society B – where Molly Vetter is the chair, the subcommittee has voted NOT to remove “incompatible with Christian teaching”. There are hundreds of GLBT advocates here praying and demonstrating for this change. A lot of disappointment, as you can imagine.  The committee still has to vote, as does the plenary ….. I’m sure there will be a minority report.

* Leanne Nakanishi (our Conference UMW President) is on alert since a petition allowing “other women’s groups” has passed subcommittee with the support of Renew – the women’s arm of the conservative voices in our UMC. 

* No use reporting on the state of the restructuring. The Call to Action/IOT proposal was displaced by Plan B as the foundational document, and now the MFSA ideas on board membership have been incorporated. Leanne has to keep track of all of this for the whole world as the GA Secretary, so I doubt we’ll hear much from her!

* Mark Stephenson – Reserve Lay Delegate from Hollywood 1st – has a lot to say about how the conversation on homosexuality went in yesterday’s Local Church conversation. Local Church was dealing with numerous petitions looking for ways to reprise the “all means all” conversation about membership. You’ll remember that “all means all” was circulated to conferences as a potential constitutional amendment, and it failed.  Those of you saddened by that will also be saddened to know that the selected petition (21079 –LC Eligibility Criteria for Membership) has failed in committee.
Mark was dismayed to hear voices still talking about welcoming GLBT people “so that Christ can change them.”  The Holy Spirit prompted him to stand by the door and hand out 35 Hollywood 1st business cards.
* Norma Kehrberg (1st Lay Reserve Delegate) was called in yesterday to an emergency “occupy” action when pro-life advocate observers were present in a number that seemed to be squelching honest debate.
* Tonya Harris reports this morning that Financial Administration has decided to recommend a modified CRSP version of our pension plan. OK, I’m not the pension expert, and I don’t know what the amendment is, but this plan reduces the defined benefit (since we can’t fund that as a denomination in perpetuity), asks for some matching contribution from clergy, and if the clergy puts in 1%, keeps the church’s contribution (matching and non-matching) at 3%. If the clergy doesn’t contribute, the church puts in 2%.  Everybody got that?  Don’t worry – it’ll probably change again anyway.
Maybe you’d be more interested to know that the conversation in Financial Administration has been moderate and functional.  We guess those are the sorts of people who self-select Financial Administration.
* Cedric has been in Judicial Administration, working in alliance with Southern delegates (yes, really) to remove officiating same-sex unions as a chargeable offense. No success yet. In fact the twitter feeds this morning suggest that things are going against this alliance. The room was full – couldn’t get in as an observer.
* I did get into Faith & Order (where Tricia Farris is our delegate) in time to see the Social Principles put into the category of Discipline sections to be considered in a 2nd volume – good news!  You may know that the Worldwide Nature of the Church study has proposed a 2 Discipline system: 1 for the worldwide church that could only be changed at General Conference, and 2nd volumes for Central Conferences – of which the US would become one in this plan. The next four years would be spent discussing all of this in our Conferences.  
* CST seems to be doing fine – delegates holding strong against various angry petitions to remove its official Methodist designation and funding, to monitor its curriculum, etc.
* Ministry & Higher Ed (where Tom Choi is serving) has voted to end guaranteed appointments. We’ll have to hear more from Tom. I know the details of the proposal, but not the details of the discussion. 
* Ok, but I’m still sitting in the room with Church & Society A, which is composed of many passionate advocates for issues. So you’d think they’d be passionately discussing issues, but mostly they bog down in procedural issues. 
However, once they do vote, they vote to keep our strong peacemaking stance. They have voted against attempts to remove our anti-death penalty stance. They have not been tempted in the least to get excited about teaching “intelligent design” in schools, and a few voices have been intentional about sanding down some of the rawer edges on our Israel/Palestine statements so that we’ll still be able to talk to our friends the rabbis when this is over. We are still strongly against illegal settlements and set our faces to work for justice in concert with our Palestinian Christian friends.  The divestment resolution is in Financial Administration – not discussed yet.
It’s tedious and slow-going work – keep up your prayers and support for your delegation.
Grace and peace,

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Another Sign of Hope - CST

Oops - forgot to note this one, and it's a good one!  At the Ministry & Higher Education Committee, Jerry Campbell made a beautiful presentation on the Claremont School of Theology (very much under attack at this GC).  Also Clergy Delegate & CST trustee Patricia Farris has circulated Q & A docs to make sure delegates are not operating out of misconceptions about the seminary.

Frank Wulf and Mary Elizabeth Moore report that most of the anti-Claremont petitions did not make it out of the subcommittee.  Signs of hope!

Paige - for the team

Signs of Hope - Day 3

I know that the rest of the delegation has things to say about General Conference – and I assume they will get around to it! 

For now, let me offer some signs of hope to keep you coming back to the blog.

There is, of course, a lot of talk about Holy Conferencing and the importance of not only arriving at a decision, but doing so in a way that reflects our best moving-on-to-perfection selves.  Easier said than done – but indeed, in many corners it’s happening:

* I sat in on a Church & Society A subcommittee today as they discussed Israel/Palestine. The group had self-selected from the larger committee, so a number of the 18 people around the table had been to Israel/Palestine and were studied up on the issues.  The group leaned heavily toward continuing a prophetic stance on human rights abuses in Palestine (perhaps to the chagrin of the American Jewish Committee rabbi sent from New York to observe), but disagreements about both substance and language were conducted in a respectful way. People listened, waited for translations (Russian, French, Swahili), and acknowledged each other’s contributions.

* Molly tells me that the next door Church & Society B subcommittee dealing with reproductive rights decided not to start right in on perfecting the motions before them, but instead went around the table talking in some depth about their own experiences with difficult decision-making around abortion.  Mind you – there are observers everywhere. This group was surrounded by an orange-shirted pro-life group, among others, like our own Mary Larsen of MFSA who is zipping around GC on a shiny red scooter. 

* Tonya Harris has been sitting in on Financial Administration (bless her heart) and tells me that a conversation about extending benefits to same-sex partners became an HR question instead of an emotional debate. A delegate noted that the committee should probably first research how private sector firms are handling same-sex partner benefits – maybe there’s something to learn from that. All of the delegates, regardless of theological stance on homosexuality, thought this was a good idea.

* Leanne is the Secretary for the General Administration group, which is discussing the restructuring plans. This group also did not leap right into parliamentary procedure, but invited supporters of each plan to come and make presentations. Then they divided into small groups to discuss.

So, okay, we’re just getting started in subcommittees and people could be reserving their heavy hitting for later, but it’s also possible that people are tired of the pain.

It’s also true that a planned time for small group conversations on Wednesday was not all positive. Some GLBT friends got hurt in the process. I don’t know what was said, but clearly it was painful. Tonight there was a moment on the floor and a large silent witness outside the hall, organized by the Love Your Neighbor coalition.

Tonya and I retire each night to our fabulous condo by the beach, about 20 miles south of Tampa. It’s a timeshare gift from one of my church members, to whom I have awarded many extra points toward heaven.  We are thankful for God’s abundance and would definitely throw a party if anyone had time and energy for frivolity.

But of course we don’t, because we are your very serious and dedicated General Conference servants.



Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Hot Topics - Day 1

The pace picked up a little this afternoon as legislative committees met for the first time to elect their officers – chair, vice chair, secretary, and sub-committee chairs. Each legislative committee has about 100 members, many of whom have arrived in committee with a passion and a strategy.
Cal-Pac’s delegation is pleased to share that Rev. Molly Vetter was elected the chair of Church & Society B, which will cover (in 3 days) petitions and resolutions about abortion, sexual orientation, health care, drugs, and bullying, among other hot topics. The observer’s gallery will always be packed with reserve delegates, agency staff, official observers, and press. I couldn’t get in today, but now I know to go much earlier!  As Chair, Molly will exercise considerable discretion over how issues are prioritized, discussed, perfected, and referred (or not) to the full Conference. We’re grateful to those who advocated for her leadership among the delegates.

I was in the observer’s area of Church & Society A, where Jo Ann Yoon Fukumoto is our delegate. Church and Society A will cover war and peace, worker rights, the death penalty, Israel/Palestine, and other issues that are integral to our UMC’s public witness. The group elected Rev. Tracy Smith Malone to the Chair. Rev. Malone is a board member of the General Board of Church & Society, and a DS in the Chicago area – again, the result of successful advocacy to elect leadership that is committed to inclusivity, diversity, and economic justice. Subcommittee chairs We Chang, Bethany Amy, and Oliver Green have similar track records for inclusivity and justice.

If you go to and scroll to General Conference Business, you can download the Advance Edition of the Daily Christian Advocate and see the proposed changes to the Social Principles in the Discipline, as well as the proposed updates to existing resolutions, and proposals of new resolutions. You can also track resolutions.

In General Administration, Lay Delegate Leanne Nakanishi was elected as Secretary. We, of course, already know that she is awesome at this – now everyone else will know, too.

And now I have the honor of actually sitting on the floor as a reserve delegate. This requires a special permission slip from our kind and generous Delegation Head. I will have the opportunity to represent you in worship (I think). I will do so with an enthusiasm befitting the opportunity!


Rev. Paige Eaves
Jurisdictional Reserve Delegate

Cal-Pac Delegates Elected as Leaders

It was an exciting day at General Conference, especially considering that several of our California-Pacific Annual Conference delegates were chosen to be leaders of the legislative committees.

Rev. Molly Vetter was elected to serve as the chair of Church and Society B. Leanne Nakanishi was elected to serve as the secretary of General Administration. Mele Maka was elected to serve as a subcommittee chair of Conferences.

We are so proud that the denomination will be able to share in the considerable gifts and talents of the leaders we know so very well and love.


Grace and aloha,

Tom Choi

Holy Conferencing Around Sexuality

Tom  Choi gave me the opportunity today to sit in for him for the General Conference  sessions on Holy Conferencing. I entered into conversation with a group of eight. Three came from the Congo, one from Finland, and the rest from around the United States.
As we began to talk about issues of human sexuality, one of the delegates from Congo observed that the church’s struggles with polygamy in Africa paralleled the church’s struggles with homosexuality in the United States. He suggested that we needed to get to know each other’s issues if we truly wanted to be in relationship with each other. He concluded by suggesting that the real issue is helping people find relationship with God in Jesus Christ. So… maybe, we should stop judging people on the basis of their sexual behaviors and simply welcome them into our churches… polygamists  and lesbian/gay people alike.
- Frank Wulf, 1st Reserve Clergy Delegate

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Opening Day

Greetings from Tampa -
* Opening Ceremonies today. Big worship with dancers and a mass choir and a band playing 8 kinds of music. The liturgy bounced from English to Portuguese to German to Korean to Spanish to American Sign Language. Even back here in the cheap seats, I was moved by the expressed desire to be the body of Christ, unified in witness around the world.
* Speaking of which, The Common Witness Coalition has been working through the weekend to welcome and build relationships with international delegates. Tonya Harris and Frank Wulf will blog more about this later – I just showed up in time for a rockin’ dinner with live music and powerful progressive speaker in the Coalition’s “tabernacle” – a big white tent set up across from the Convention Center. It will be there all GC, serving lunch and providing a meeting place for international delegates.
The Coalition consists of these groups: Affirmation Methodists for LGBTQ Concerns, Black Methodists for Church Renewal, MFSA, National Federation of Asian American United Methodists, Native American International Caucus, Reconciling Ministries Network . Find out more at:
* The Cal-Pac delegation was saddened to find that our table position on the floor is in the very back row, along with others in the Western Jurisdiction. The initial map had shown us that Row 1 would be, well, the first row. You will need to keep sending our delegation your good prayer energy, as it is more difficult to be seen and recognized by the presiding Bishop from the back row. On the up side, our delegation is seated around delegates from the Congo and Russia.
* If you’re reading this, you’re probably also following events on If so, you’ll note that Cal-Pac Delegation Leader Tom Choi is pictured on the front page with Bishop Grant Hagiya.  Very exciting.
* Tonight we are hearing from Erin Hawkins, General Secretary of the General Commission on Religion & Race, on diversity issues. She’s from our Conference – consistently thoughtful and insightful.  Then some work on rules and schedule. 
* Lay Delegate Mele Maka has been elected Chair of Courtesies. It's lovely to have her leadership and graciousness so widely recognized. 
Legislative Committee meetings begin tomorrow. Your humble bloggers will seek to respond to the interests of our readers.
Rev. Paige Eaves
Jurisdictional Reserve Delegate

Friday, April 20, 2012


April 20, 2012, Ocala, Fl. 8:00pm.

Monday I left LA for Las Vegas - no not to make a deposit with the locals but to spend a day at NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) - looking at the new toys and spending time with son Steven - exhibiting their video truck.

Tuesday over the hill to meet I40 - my selected route to the east coast. As I crossed the new bridge over the Colorado I reflected on THE dam and the tole it inflicted on those who built it. On to Williams (there is a Starbucks at the local supermarket). Some snow still on the ground from the weekend storm. A beautiful desert day concluding in Albuquerque.

On the road at 4:30 am - miles to make. Another beauty! Crossing the continental divide - I felt the car surge forward as we raced down hill to the Mississippi. The panhandle was soon behind and Oklahoma loomed in the windshield. Ahhh the wind whipping over the plain kept me awake all afternoon. I made a short stop to visit historic Ft. Reno in eastern OK. There were signs of spring with wild flowers peeking out in the center dividers. As the sun set in the west I checked into an abode in Ft Smith, AK. Boy I was surprised by the size of the Arkansas River.

Thursday was another sparkling day - the further east the more the trees reflected their summer fare. Mid way across Arkansas the rolling hills began to flatten soon disappearing into the huge delta. Before noon I finally coasted across the mighty Mississippi - I learned to water ski in her muddy waters above St. Louis a year or so ago. ;-) By the time I reached Atlanta for the night I had crossed Arkansas, spent a few miles in Tennessee, crossed Mississippi as well as Alabama and a touch of Georgia.

On the road at 6:30 headed south to Ocala. This was the first day that did not sparkle - it was overcast until I reached south Georgia and Florida. I took a side trip to visit the site of the Civil War prison at Andersonville, GA. A national cemetery and the Prisoner of War Museum are also on the grounds. A sobering place to say the least. Finally the beautiful weather changed - temps at 91 and humidity nearly the same shouted out - YOU are in Florida as I opened the door in Ocala. Tomorrow morning the Don Garlits' museum of drag racing and then on to Tampa. After dinner I'll join fellow Conference Lay Leaders in worship for the start of our annual meeting.

I love the diversity and the beauty of our land as it flows past me on the road. Always changing, always different. I hope and pray that the General Conference session will be just as beautiful and changing as my tour.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ministry Study Reflections

The 2012 General Conference has legislation that could change the denomination significantly. The Ministry Study Commission has proposed some sweeping changes to the way we do ministry, particularly around the guarantee of a fulltime appointment. There is other legislation focusing on renewing a culture of call to ministry, especially among younger people. 

I have written a blog on this subject if you are interested: 

Our delegation and our denomination need your prayers. Thanks so much.

The grace and aloha of Jesus Christ be with you.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Packing my bags...

Okay, I haven't really started packing my bags, but I'm certainly getting ready for General Conference, which is now less than a week away. There's a lot of big decisions before us, both stuff that matters a lot to people in the church and stuff that matters a lot to folks outside of it. Conference calls, blogs, email messages and more are flying around, attempting to help us navigate the complexities of the matters before us.

In the midst of it all, my heart was warmed by this account of one Sunday School class's attempt to change a section of the Book of Discipline, posted on the Oregon-Idaho Conference blog. I thought you might enjoy it too--and it's a little lesson in how people can participate in this thing called General Conference.

I'm mostly looking forward to the time ahead of us, and pray that it will be an occasion to celebrate the rich ministries of our United Methodist Church, and to make changes that help us more clearly embody the body of Christ in our world. I hope you'll keep us in prayer!