Yesterday (Monday) was legislative day. All the petitions that were prioritized on Sunday were worked through the legislative process by the committee of the whole. The mood was somber throughout the day, but everyone was cordial and respectful of others. There is definitely a feeling in the air that we are at an historic point in the history of Methodism. We’ll see what happens today.
Rather than me unpack the results of the legislative work, I’ll let you read it yourself here. This is from the official United Methodist news agency. For a perspective from a source outside United Methodism, you can click here.
Let me clarify something for you: General Conference is not over. Nothing is established yet. The legislative work was simply a means of perfecting certain legislation that will now move to plenary session of the Conference. Yes, the Traditional Plan advanced out of legislative committee, but there were delegates who were attempting to complete the work of perfecting the legislation through amendments, when a non-debatable motion was made to advance the legislation before that process was finished. Subsequently, a motion was made to request a Judicial Council ruling on the constitutionality of the plan. We await that ruling this morning.
Conversely, the One Church Plan and the Simple Plan were given ample time for debate and amendment. Neither were voted to advance to plenary. Yes, they both can show up on the floor today, most likely through what it called a “minority” report. The minority report comes as a substitute motion to the plenary, and conceivably could be voted by the majority as the main motion. I doubt that will happen, but anything is possible. There are some other ways the legislation could make it back to plenary, but I won’t bore you with parliamentary details (and I’m not sure I really understand all the ways).
The long and short of it is that nothing is settled yet. Certainly, yesterday provided a gauge on the temperature in the room, but today will be the day when General Conference speaks for the United Methodist Church.
My day included a video interview, and I actually had the opportunity to sit on the floor as a delegate two times yesterday. I didn’t anticipate having that opportunity given the historic nature of our gathering. I figured as first alternate clergy delegate, I’d be sitting in the bullpen for this one. I was, however, ushered out of the bullpen for a period of time, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity.
I don’t know whether the video interview will show up anywhere, but I was asked if I was hopeful. I said that I was indeed hopeful, and then I was asked why. I am hopeful because I know God is bigger than our debates at this General Conference. I am hopeful because God is bigger than any agenda at this General Conference (including mine). I am hopeful because God is bigger than a local congregation, an Annual Conference or any denomination. God is bigger, and God’s Kingdom will be advanced, and God’s Kingdom will grow and the gates of hell shall not prevail against God’s Church no matter what happens today. Of that, I am certain, and that gives me hope.
Just because I’m hopeful doesn’t mean I’m not heartbroken. As I’ve said before, I was born at the foot of a Methodist piano. Methodism is all I know as I have sought to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ. I am heartbroken that (most likely) the United Methodist Church will be different when today is done. I’m heartbroken that relationships I’ve cherished throughout my time as a clergy person have been strained because of these debates. I’m heartbroken that we’ve devolved to name-calling and hateful rhetoric of our sisters and brothers. I’m heartbroken that we’re at a global gathering of one part of God’s Church, and rather than anticipation and excitement, there is angst and discouragement. There is so much to be heartbroken over in United Methodism right now.
Many in this debate have said we must live in a “both/and” world rather than an “either/or.” Okay, I’ll embrace that–I’m both hopeful and heartbroken as we head into this last (?) day.
Don’t forget, you can catch the live-stream here.
Until next time, keep looking up…