2016 General Conference- Day 4

Rule 44

And on the third day….

Much has been and will be written about Rule 44’s demise, the tea-leaf reading thereof, and what would have happened should it have become part of our rules. I’ll leave that to others. 2 little pieces that I somehow missed both in my own reading and the pro/con rhetoric:

  • 2012 General Conference asked for a different way of talking about matters. With the numbers of times I’ve already heard “this is my Xth General Conference”, many of the people who asked for this are the people who said “no” yesterday.
  • If it had become one of the Rules of General Conference, that didn’t mean it had to be used as a decision tool. Another vote would have had to been taken to push a petition into the Rule 44 process.

One more comment on Rule 44. Wednesday morning’s plenary was chaotic. Yet again, there were more Points of Order and Points of Information than there were speeches for and against. Even I, fancying myself as something of a parliamentarian, got lost in some of the machinations. The sad part about it is, the conversation got lost, too. No one could listen to each other. Conferencing came to and end as it morphed into something. The body spoke, yes. But something was lost in the process.

Committee, Subcommittees, Plenary (or, I’m Just Petition, Yes I’m Only a Petition and I’m sitting here on Capitol Hill the Banks of the Willamette River) :

Speaking of processes…. This fascinates me.

In order to process the many petitions sent to General Conference, each legislative committee divides into various subcommittees. The Financial Administration Committee divided its membership and work into three subcommittees:

  • The Budget- determining 
  • Pensions and Investments
  • Everything Else

The subcommittee I observed yesterday was the “everything else” one. I’ve got to take my hat off to my friend Mathew Pinson. He did a fantastic job processing (that’s the term) legislation. He put forth petitions in a way that allowed for healthy, civil conversation, he did not “mansplain” or condescend. And the committee reflected that. People listened. Conversations were had. I’m not going to say that any opinions were changed but there were real, thoughtful conversations. I appreciate that.

Here’s just a few of the things an “everything else” subcommittee would consider:

  • Whether or not to require all Health and Welfare agencies within the United Methodist Church to join the United Methodist Assocation.
  • Whether or not to create a separate apportionment line item for Central Conference Theological Education
  • Whether or not People employed by an Annual Conference (or General Agency?) must adhere to and profess a Wesleyan understanding of the Christian faith.
  • Whether or not a congregation aligning as “Reconciling” or “Confessing” could receive apportionment dollars.
  • Whether the auditing filter ought to be altered so that apportionment and general church funds can be better directed to address the HIV/ AIDS pandemic.

When the full committee comes back into order, each subcommittee will report on their recommendation. The full committee will be able to take the recommendation and affirm it, alter it, or vote it down. There’s the opportunity for minority reports and whether something goes onto a Consent Calendar (large numbers of petitions that overwhelmingly passed out of committee and are affirmed en masse) or is discussed on the floor of General Conference. For more on this, see Dalton Rushing’s post: here.

Process and the Holy Spirit

Once again, I’m a process person. I think the Spirit never disregards good preparation (thank you, Don Saliers). Decision best happen when heart and mind meet, not one overriding the other. If we get so involved in process–even as we begin each day with worship, end each day with a devotion–is there a chance that we miss out on where God wants us to go? God is in the process. I believe that. I also believe that so are our subjective opinions and preferences, our human desire for recognition, power, acceptance, and control. Pray for each delegate, those who are officers of the committees, and our bishops as they lead.

Vital Signs Important Numbers

  1. Steps Walked: 6,872 (notice the downward trend?)
  2. Hours of uninterrupted sleep: 8:30 (the most since Joy’s been born, save when sick)
  3. Slices of “Always Sunny in Portland” Pizza left behind after asking for a takeout box: 2 (2 and 3 probably related).

3 thoughts on “2016 General Conference- Day 4

  1. Qs:
    1) Does the petition re: employment define what a “Wesleyan understanding of the Christian faith” is? Or who gets to define that, each employing entity?
    2) Does the petition re: denying apportionment $$ to Reconciling or Confessing congregations also let them off the hook for paying apportionments, or is it a “taxation without representation” kind of punishment?

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    1. Subcommittee recommended non-concurrence on both. Of course, full committee get to have their say. First was recommended as non-concurrence bc it possibly violate labor laws. Free second because apportionment dollars flow up from the congregation, not down.

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      1. Second makes sense. First, not sure about labor laws – lots of room for religious institutions to “discriminate” if it’s in furtherance of their religious mission. But glad to hear non-concurrence nevertheless.

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