Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Future With Hope

The theme for General Conference is "A future with hope." It will be interesting to see how the delegates of the 2008 session live into that idea!

As we prepare for the conference the delegation has received reports and looked through "The Daily Christian Advocate" to familiarize ourselves with what issues we can anticipate to be involved with. ("The Daily Christian Advocate" is the title of the published materials for the General Conference. We currently have three volumes of reports and legislation and there will be daily publications throughout the conference.) It is a bit overwhelming to try to look through all of the material. It is also impossible to know which of the petitions will survive through committee and come to the General Conference floor.

Glancing through the material you can find petitions on a wide variety of subjects and often petitions on the same issue from opposing sides. One petition that caught my eye yesterday wants to amend the United Methodist Church's stand on the death penalty. Jonathan Carlsen of Arcadia, FL has submitted a petition asking that we delete the line "We believe the death penalty denies the power of Christ to redeem, restore and transform all human beings." The petition he submitted includes other language to make it sound as if the U.M.C. condones the death penalty as a means of criminal justice. I don't think that particular item will pass but who knows?

In our last delegation meeting Kristina Gonzalez gave a report about the work of "the task group on the Global Nature of the Church." Kristina is a staff member of the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference and she was a member of this task group. Their report is a response to the ever changing nature of the United Methodist Church. For most of our history we have been a church of the United States. However, approximately 3 million of our 11 million members live outside of the U.S. We are no longer only an "American Church." We are the church in Africa, Asia and Europe as well. The major legislation coming from this group will be to eliminate the word "central" conferences for those conferences outside the U.S. and to create regional conferences of which the U.S. will be one. In the proposed legislation the U.S. would retain their jurisdictional conferences and their work of electing bishops.

At first look this seems to me to be the right thing to do. It gives some equality to our relationship with the international conferences and it may open the door for some autonomy for the U.S. church to deal with its social and cultural issues. It is forces those of us in the United States to recognize that there is more to the United Methodist Church than what exists within our boundaries.

The other hot topic of delegation meetings (now that our housing situation is settled) seems to be around Rule 12 of the Rules of Order. It reads "Cell phone use is not permitted in the plenary hall or the legislative committee rooms by delegates or observers. In addition, the use of laptop computers, personal digital assistants, pagers and other electronic devices should be in furtherance of General Conference business and done in such a manner that does not disturb other participants. . . ." There is also talk of an attempt to prevent wireless Internet access on the conference floor. There will be access in other parts of the building so how they are going to shield one particular area is a mystery to me. It has also been pointed out many of the delegates can access the Internet through their cell phone providers. I don't know what the point of this exercise in futility is by the planners but I hope the old codgers catch on that the post modern era is one of making full use of information technology.

Peace, Y'all. (see I'm getting ready for Ft. Worth)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Ch - Ch - Ch - Changes

Yesterday Longview UMC made the announcement : "It is the intention of Bishop Ed Paup to appoint the Rev. Bruce D. Smith to Mill Plain United Methodist Church effective July 1, 2008."

It was an emotional time for everyone in worship. While I was able to prepare some for the announcement for the most part these things come as a surprise as we work to keep confidentiality and fairness for everyone involved. I hope that the people of LUMC will be able to begin looking forward to the possibilities of the new energy a pastoral change can bring.

From the other side: Brianna is giddy that Daddy will be closer to home. Camas UMC is happy to have some added security that Kendra could be their pastor for the next few years. I anticipate that Mill Plain is excited to have a pastor named and to be looking forward.

I will greatly miss the people of LUMC and I look forward to hearing about their continued ministry in the coming years. In the meantime there are the celebrations of Easter and LUMC's 5th anniversary of becoming a reconciling congregation!

May God Bless everyone in the midst of these changes!