It’s Friday (I think) afternoon in Tampa. We are starting to tire a little here at General Conference. But the work is getting done. Yesterday and today has been full of legislative committee work as the body considers the many petitions for changes to the Book of Discipline.
The real proof in the pudding will come when the committees’ reports and consent calendar are brought to the plenary session. Often a decision from committee will be reversed by the whole Conference.
Early reports from committee work show a desire for moderate change in our structure, a continuing desire to function as a global church, a concern for the poor, a reluctance to limit the pastor’s authority in receiving members, a desire to retain our Western Jurisdiction (thankfully), and more! Some of the texts I’ve been receiving make me wonder “how long, O Lord, will we have to fight the same battles?”
And then there are the bright moments of hope. Like last night, when Bishop Hoshibata preached a compelling sermon calling for The United Methodist Church to become a healing church which truly welcomes all persons, loves and cares for all of God’s creation, and responds to Jesus’ calling for justice and peace. After a standing ovation for the sermon many delegates left the plenary to join the Reconciling Ministries Network in witnessing for a fully inclusive church.
The young adults here at General Conference also encourage me to think it might be possible for us to become more nimble in mission, more energetic in faith, and more joyful in community. And there do seem to be more of them this year!
And then there is the continuing spirit of camaraderie amongst the delegates and friends from the West. Thanks for your prayers…keep them coming, as the Holy Spirit has much more work to do here in Tampa and in us!