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.