Sunday, April 27, 2008

Do I hear a motion to go to bed?

When I was told at the 6:45 strategy planning breakfast this morning that SoulForce (google it if you don't know who they are) had arrived in Fort Worth, I said "Thank God!" Sure enough as I approached the Convention Center- there they were. Maybe two-hundred people in white tee-shirts, many holding stop signs that read "STOP- Spiritual Violence." The tears welled up, as they are right now, when I felt that my feelings, my experiences, were legitimate. Instead of being ignored or dismissed or seen as an issue, I had the chance for a few minutes to authentically interact with people who want to love and support me and help make the world better. Pretty sad that I need this refuge at the largest gathering of United Methodists in the world. But, I did get to give Jimmy Creech a great big hug. (Jimmy is a hero and a friend who used to be a United Methodist minister but was defrocked for serving his parishioners in the name of God.)
The drumming circle, that started the previous noon, was still going on this morning. (Apparently they had some trouble over night with counter protesters, but everything worked out. I don't have the whole story.)
Inside Conference, the early buzz was about a story that went national about 1:00 in the morning. It was revealed and acknowledged that the group of conservative action groups had been giving away free cell phones to delegates from Africa. It seems our African delegates received a letter inviting them to come pick up their free cell phone - a gift... On the other side of the letter was a slate of names to vote for Judicial Council. (Speaking of which, the Council of Bishops released their list of names yesterday morning of who they are endorsing for Judicial Council, included on the list of 15 people for 5 open seats was New England's own Vicki Woods!)
Anyway, back to the cell phones. Another member of the New England delegation - Ralph - was granted the floor for a moment of personal privilege and requested the Commission on General Conference form an Ethics Committee to address such crises as this. It was seconded and passed by a hand count (in other words, it wasn't close)! And then, just like that it was over and we went to the order of the day. It was very brave and important for him to get this out there so I think that's fantastic. (if anyone who isn't a die hard Methodist read this paragraph and any of it made sense, I'd be shocked. That being said, I could not exaggerate the type of "code" language that is used at events like this. It's simply it's own language.)
The Human Sexuality Sub-Committee finally finished our work at about 9:00 tonight and then we immediately went into a full committee meeting to look at the sub-committee's suggestions. We did pretty well, but people started to get antsy around 11:00. Someone rose to ask how long we were planning on going and I think people were pretty shocked to hear the chair say that he was anticipating 12:40 am. We decided to adjourn about an hour earlier than that but I was one who voted to keep working. Basically, because we adjourned so early we are in real danger of not finishing before the 1:00 am Monday morning deadline. So we will either 1) work past 1:00 am into early Monday, or 2) be dismissed from plenary on the Monday morning gather to complete our work. In any case, I would have preferred to stick around later tonight rather then doing it later. I don't think committee members get what we're up agains.
Finally, I want to share very briefly about a few spirit moments. The first came when a friend who is volunteering asked me how things were going in committee. He's a little younger than me and is also a gay man called to the ordained ministry who is working as a housing advocate. I let myself go somewhere in my mind that may not be terribly helpful to go to yet, but looking at his hopeful face I thought "maybe we can do this. Maybe through some miracle if the right things happen we can change this person's life for the better." Ummm... I had a minor breakdown, very minor. If you know how much I love to cry you wouldn't even rank this. I didn't even really need a tissue. But just the same, I was glad I was able to connect in a real way with someone I love around our shared experiences..................
Well I just tried typing a few times to share my thoughts about another vulnerable grace-filled moment where I connected with a very different sort of person around a very technical piece of our work but I'm just too tired. So if you want to hear that story, you'll have to wait for the sermon some time. It'll be awesome, I promise.

1 comment:

Tallessyn said...

Will, thank you for these detailed descriptions. We celebrated all of you and your work today at Cambridge Welcoming. We had an Earth Day celebration and transformed a bare cross and altar into a tree of life on a vibrant rainbow altar. We missed all of you and prayed that you would feel our prayers and spirits supporting and uplifting your diligent work in Fort Worth.