2016 General Conference – Day 8

Welcome to the 2nd Week of General Conference! A few words about today:

John Street UMC

Let me geek out on history a bit. Today the General Church voted on the Trustees of John Street UMC in Manhattan. Why is this important? Because it is, literally, the first Methodist Church in America. I loved reading about this place in the history books. It was started because Barbara Heck caught folks playing cards. She thought they were all going to hell so she coaxed someone into preaching to them. As the church was founded, Robert Strawbridge would preach in his British redcoat uniform, taking his sword off and placing it on the pulpit. I’m sure that’s one of the reasons he captured people’s attention!

These days, John Street is an important church, not just because it is in the financial district but because young people are moving into Lower Manhattan at a rapidly increasing rate. We need the church there. I pray they are effective in their faithful ministry of presence and outreach.


I had the privilege of sitting in, again, for some of our delegates. As we were coming together after lunch, we had our first protest of this General Conference. It last 20 minutes. Yes, General Conference costs $1,388 dollars per minute. And sometime we need to let voices be heard. In this case, it was a 20 minute reminder to me, at least, that I am white, male, heterosexual. That gives me an awful lot of privilege before I even open my mouth. Sometimes I need to be quiet. Sometimes I need to create space for others to feel like they are heard, even if all that can be mustered is a cry of frustration or the tears of heartache.

Challenge to Judicial Council

Now this is interesting. We have a challenge to the Judicial Council for a ruling of law as to whether or not central conference delegates have to be elected. Taking the person who made the request at face value, it seems as if folks are claiming that in some Annual Conferences in the Central Conferences, there aren’t elections but appointments to delegations–appointments made by bishops. Involved in those challenges were complaints from central conferences read by someone from the U.S. Coercion, fiscal malfeasance. It makes one sick if it winds up being true. I hope the Judicial Council rules soon.

Look at all the rumors surrounding me every day:

About the time I was thinking about going to bed, Twitter perked up. The progressive caucus was posting that there’s a possibility that the Council of Bishops would entertain a called session of General Conference to consider and vote upon “amicable separation”. I literally don’t know what to say about that. If true, it would be expensive–an order of magnitude that ministries would have to be curtailed to fund it. Remember General Conference in 2016 costs $1,388 per minute. Several General Conferences ago, Bill Hinson (one-time pastor of Houston FUMC) floated this idea and the General Conference balked. Instead, they stayed late into the night on the last night of General Conference affirming the unity of the Church. Could this be a trial balloon by our bishops simply force the church to face the sobriety of what keeps getting banted about? Is this their King Solomon moment? Is a rouse by Love Your Neighbor to force a hand that, in reality, no one wants? I. Literally. Do. Not. Know.

I’ve got to think that cooler heads will prevail. We’ve got to remember that there’s more we have in common than that which divides us. Pray tonight. Rest well. Rise tomorrow renewed to speak words of grace and hope. 

But first, I might cry.
There’s holy work to do tomorrow. But, first, let’s run the numbers….

Vital Signs Important Numbers:

  • Steps Taken: 6,758
  • Times when I’ve wondered whether or not our leaders ate the wrong brownies at snack break: 1
  • Times I’ve been to Blue Star Donuts they were sold out: 2