Stepping Out Of Line
I am privileged again this year to serve as an elected clergy delegate to the United Methodist General Conference from the Kansas West Annual Conference. This is my fifth time to serve as a delegate, a source of continuing wonderment and profound humility.
In reflecting on my involvement at this level of the church’s work, I have to admit that I have been reluctant in offering my services for any kind of overt leadership opportunity.
Something moved me to do things differently this time around. Perhaps it is familiarity with the process or the expectation that this will be my last General Conference as a delegate. For whatever the reason, I am offering my services for a leadership position on the “Conferences” legislative committee.
I have served on this committee three times previously (2000, 2004, and 2008). I have chosen this committee because of my conviction that the annual conference is–and continues to be–”the basic body in the Church”(2008 Book of Discipline, ¶ 33; see also ¶ 11). “Conferences”–of whatever sort, shape, and variety–are the infrastructure for our work as a denomination.
The “Conferences” legislative committee deals with all petitions and resolutions relating to the composition and activities of the General, jurisdictional, annual, provisional, missionary and district conferences. While other committees in Tampa will be more lively or controversial, I believe that the “Conferences” committee will have important work to do and that it needs to be done well.
I believe that I bring open-mindedness and even-handedness to possible leadership on this committee. I also bring the experience of living and working with the Book of Discipline as a pastor since 1978 and a term as District Superintendent (1995-2001). I have found it to be frustrating and exasperating at times, but I continue believe in its value for helping to shape our life together.
I believe in the power and reality of a genuinely connectional church. This is more of a spiritual commitment than allegiance to any particular agenda. I really am seeking to be open to the multiplicity and variety of views being expressed–and others which may not yet have found voice.
I believe that this is a critical General Conference for us as a denomination. I am grateful for the variety of voices making proposals and sharing perspectives, and I look forward to dialogue, discussion, discernment, and decision-making when we gather in Tampa. I want us to do good, faithful, and effective work.
I understand that offering my services in this way will automatically disqualify me for any leadership opportunities in the eyes of some. I realize that others believe themselves already to be in line for leadership positions. I recognize that I very well may rue the day when I offered my services in this way!
Stepping out of line is not always appreciated or well received. Whatever the situation, I trust that we will find a way to work together effectively not only to do church work but the work of the church, which is ultimately to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world–even in and through a denomination such as ours!
2 Comments »
Leave a Reply