Dave Wilson, James Boyett, Luther Henry, Sarah Clifford, Kim Simpson, Suzi Michell, Mike Rodden, plus Kim Desrosiers (who was there as a scribe) and I just returned from the Central Texas Annual Conference meeting on Wednesday evening. When I look back on my attendance of annual conference I find my attitude has changed a bit. In the beginning, I looked forward to it with great enthusiasm 25 years ago. Now, although there are still some bright moments, most of it feels like a beating. Perhaps that is the reaction of my body for sitting for 72 hours; perhaps it is the response of someone who sees how arduous the process of change is for what we call Church. So I do not bore you, I thought I would give you a very quick synopsis of my 2018 experience.
The most laughable moment - Rev. Randy Wild wins the prize! His retirement speech was the best I've ever seen - well almost. The only thing that has ever made me laugh more is Rev. Cleon Flannigan's speech where he talked about the parsonage "with a toilet that leaned to the left." Randy was hysterically funny, honest, and only as Randy Wild can be.
The proudest moment - Rev. Casey Orr wins this distinction hands-down. Casey is one of the brightest and best, and has taught me so much about ministry and life. I celebrate her work with the Commission on a Way Forward. I was bustin-at-the-seams-proud of her report and the work the Commission has done. Agree or disagree with the outcome of their work, the means by which they went about it, made me want to shout from the rooftop how proud I am to be a United Methodist and related to people who can do such rigorous work as this. Thank you Casey and team!
The most collegial moment - On Wednesday, the clergy women all wore red and stood in unity to ask for the annual conference to vote in favor of the constitutional amendment that declares the equality of women and men, girls and boys. It was powerful to be unified in that way. However, my heart was moved when our delegates wore red - and even our male delegates wore red! Thank you James and Dave. Your sign of support was an unanticipated gift from God!
The saddest moment - During the last hours of the conference a resolution was brought before the body regarding the children of immigrants who are separated from their parents and placed in "tent cities." (See article in the FW Star Telegram 061318.) I was so pleased we were able to quickly move to a vote. That there were people in the room who voted against the resolution made me incredibly sad and filled with grief - for whatever it was that caused them to vote against protecting the least of these.
The most teachable moment - Rev. Junius Dotson of the General Board of Discipleship certainly wins this award! Junius lit the room on fire! he NAILED DOWN what it means to be a disciple and make disciples of Jesus Christ. I have been a fan of his ever since Junius came on board. He just rose a level higher in my esteem.
The most hope-filled moment - A resolution was presented to the CTC, that would have jumped the gun in the determination of the issue of GLBTQ marriages and ordination. The resolution was discussed with passion and conviction, and also very appropriately. I find it hopeful that the resolution was defeated as that means we will continue to be a part of the work of the process as it has been set before us. The conversation was civil. Perhaps we can move toward General Conference of 2019 and even learn how to be kind in this ongoing dialogue. What a witness we would present to the world if we could manage to do so!
The most satisfying moment - It is an honor to be returned to St. Barnabas for another year. We have a lot - and I really do mean a lot - of work to do. That we can do the work is not a question. Even though Rev. Mike Rodden is moving to Switzerland, I am convinced that we can be, and will be stronger next year than we are this year.
I hope you will take time to listen to and support your lay delegates. They will be making a report to St. Barnabas as soon as possible. In the meantime, please continue to pray for our congregation, its transformation, and its members.