Friday, June 20, 2008

Holy Conferencing

We United Methodists have been tossing around the phrase, "Holy Conferencing" with some regularity lately. What does that mean? One of the definitions for conference at is: "the act of conferring or consulting together; consultation, esp. on an important or serious matter. "

As a clergy the Annual Conference is my church. It is the place where my membership is held. The gathering of my church is very important to me and while I care about the quality of the events and I care about some of the legislation we discuss, primarily the conference is about the gathering of the church an the conversations that take place as we gather.

I have had numerous conversations these past couple of days. Some have been business oriented related to some of my work within the conference such as with the Camping Board of Stewards. Some have been to meet new people. Some have been to process events that are taking place around us. Some are catching up with old friends and acquaintances.

Each of these conversations are opportunities for God's grace and they are Holy. Our conferencing has a particular culture and history and that too is holy.

Today was a day for recognizing clergy who are moving into retirement. One of the ceremonies that took place was "the passing of the mantel." It is from the story of Elijah and Elisha where at the end of his life Elijah passes the "mantel" of God's presence in his ministry on to the younger Elisha. Last year a retiring clergy placed the mantel on Kendra who was being ordained as an Elder that year. As we watched the ceremony I thought how cool would it be if in 30 or so years Kendra is able to pass the mantel on to a young clergy.

There is meaning in the traditions of the church. We have traditions at Annual Conference that mean a great deal to me. Some are formalized some informal. Our Annual Conference has a particular hymn that we call the Bishop's hymn. A bishop in our conference many years ago (I can't remember the exact date . . . 1920s?) had a favorite hymn, its first line is "Beloved, Beloved, we are the children of God." We sing it every year at conference, so far we have sung it twice and I wouldn't be surprised if we sing it again tomorrow to send off Bishop Paup.

Elaine Stanovsky in her sermon for the ordination service tonight spoke well of the traditions of the church and how for all ministers of the church (clergy and lay) the way that we come together brings us home, home in the familiarity of who we are and how we relate with one another. She related this coming home to Annual Conference as a remembrance of our baptism.

We were also reminded today that holy conferencing includes being accountable in our relationships with one another. We were told wisely (again by Elaine, she was 2 for 2 today!) that we are still maturing in how we deal with clergy misconduct. We listened to an account of clergy misconduct that took place 25 years ago and yet still has a major impact on a woman's life. We are still learning what it means to be holy with the victim and with the perpetrator of the offense. Can we be graceful with everyone involved?

It is important to me that holy conference take into account the mistakes that we all make and our reliance upon grace. The Annual Conference is a bit like a small rural town. We live in a fishbowl with one another. If you don't know someone you know someone who knows the person you don't know. There is a very small degree of separation and we are guilty of spreading much gossip about one another at our worst. But we are also able to show great grace with one another and those are holy moments too.

It has been a good couple of days of conferencing and I am looking forward to some holy sleep and relaxation before beginning my new appointment at Mill Plain UMC.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Annual Conference 2008

The Bishop announced at 2:00 that the 135 session of the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference was in session.

We have Brianna with us this year which is a lot of fun. We are on the campus of the University of Idaho in Moscow, ID. As an alum of WSU just 8 miles down the road it is a lot of fun to be out here. Unfortunately the housing and meal situation is not very accommodating. We are sharing a dinning hall with a high school football camp. Poor Brianna kept losing her place in the desert line to the big "smelly" football players. Ugh.

So far all is quiet at Conference. We had introductions, a short report from the General Conference delegation, and an address from the cabinet. The biggest controversy so far seems to be the crowded dinning hall.

I have a report to give for the Discipleship committee tomorrow about my experience at General Conference. I have been looking up legislation to remind myself of some of the things we did. I am pretty nervous about this actually. I have been asked to talk specifically about my obersvation work with the GC Discipleship committee but there may be more this group wants to know. Oh well.

It has been fun to see old friends and introduce Brianna to so people. She is taking it all in pretty well.

P.S. Sorry Al I haven't finished the book yet. I am about half way through.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Buy those women some Listerine

This moving thing is getting to be a real heartache. So while putting off dealing with that I wanted to write a quick not about Baseball. Well its not really about baseball but . . .

One of the headlines in the paper caught my eye today . . . "Lesbian kiss at Seattle ballpark stirs up gay-friendly town."

It seems a couple at the M's game the other day was asked to stop kissing by an usher who had received a complaint. They have stated that they were simply sharing an occasional kiss between munching on garlic fries. Personally I question their judgement. Who wants to kiss someone eating garlic fries? Have you tried those things, they are powerful!

Apparently some mom got all nervous and asked the usher to put a stop to it. The idea seems to have been, "what am I supposed to say to my kids." Is it that hard? Good grief my daughter has known since she was in pre-school, some families have a mom and a dad, some have a mom, some have a dad, some have two dads, some have two moms. It's not that hard to teach a child about diversity. They are pretty accepting of the idea that people are different. Too bad it is hard for the parent to accept diversity.

Frankly, the way the M's have been playing lately I question the judgement of a parent exposing their children to what is happening on the field.