May 12 / Day 3

“Robert [of Robert’s Rules of Order] wasn’t with Moses at Mt. Sinai.”
“I’m confused.  We came from a long way away, and it’s sleeping time.  We’re very confused.”
“I think we’re confusing God at this point.”

The wheels fully came off today.  iPads not working.  People waving colored cards instead, asking to speak.  The electronic queue with 15+ people waiting.  The bishop clearing the queue for new conversations, angering people who were in the line.  Arguments about point of order.  People shouting to/at the bishop from the floor (which was truly appalling).  Two different language translators speaking on the same headset channel.  

Seriously.  

Left to right: Rev. Laura Merrill, Abel Vega, Rev. Dr. Ruben Saenz, Teresa Keese

Left to right: Rev. Laura Merrill, Abel Vega, Rev. Dr. Ruben Saenz, Teresa Keese

We finally ended up taking a final vote on Rule 44, and it did not pass.  So we will not use it, even though the Commission on the GC will likely do more work on a similar alternative process.  What did feel right, at least, was that good speeches were made, expressing the desire of many to sit at table for conversation.  It is disappointing that we won’t have that opportunity this time, but even some who supported the rule said we weren’t quite ready to implement it, especially on a topic as crucial and sensitive as human sexuality.  We heard from some folks who have already tried such alternatives in their annual conferences, with good results.  So maybe we can hope the next four years will be a time of development in that regard.  It’s just hard to live another four years until our next decision-making window.

We moved into legislative committees to begin our work, and my group, Higher Education and Ministry / Superintendency divided into five subcommittees.  In 2012 we had three subgroups, but the Superintendency part, which used to be its own committee, was folded in this year.  So we have a whole pile of legislation to deal with.  My 19-member subcommittee is a good group, fairly diverse, with members from across the US, plus central conference delegates from Germany, Russia (he just finished a stint in the Russian army), Angola, North Katanga, Liberia, and I think maybe one other African conference.  Our section of legislation deals mainly with the Study on Ministry Report, including the proposal to change the timing of ordination and full conference membership for elders and deacons.  We moved through some simpler bits today and began discussion of the study group’s proposal for authorizing deacons to perform the sacraments.  A form of this allowance is already in the Book of Discipline, but the seemingly small changes being proposed feel like they may have bigger implications that we may not even be able to anticipate fully from where we now sit.  So we decided to sleep on that and pick it back up tomorrow.  

Straight from the closing session of the full legislative committee, several of us moved to a dinner for the Interjurisdictional Committee on the Episcopacy.  This group comprises all the members of the Jurisdictional Episcopacy Committees from across the US.  Without our electronic voting keypads and 80+ people voting, it took us forever to elect a chair, vice chair and secretary.  We had a good time in between votes, though, and soon we moved to electing the remaining members of a 23-member executive committee. (What?  That doesn’t sound at all clunky.)  Four people from each of the five jurisdictions, plus the officers.  One of the four is supposed to be the chair of the new episcopacy committee, which of course won’t even be constituted until the end of Jurisdictional Conference this July.  

Why do I tell you all of this?  Because somehow I got myself elected as chair-apparent of the South Central Jurisdictional committee.  Which is crazy and not something I was prepared for.  But that’s pretty much the story of my life.  These are committees that deal with where bishops serve.  That’s an understatement, actually, but it’s as much of a description as I can give right now!

It’s been a full, exhausting day.  The morning was chaotic and unbelievable, and the rest fairly productive.  I’m just hoping to sleep well.