Thursday, April 24, 2008

Will Green- 4/23/08

Today I experienced two different sides of General Conference; I started out the day at the RMN volunteer headquarters and ended being a delegate as we began the first official session of conference. It was nice for me to enjoy the differences. Volunteering with Reconciling is what I know best so it was grounding for me to spend my morning and early afternoon in that setting.
The Parent's Reconciling Network (a.k.a. PRN, a network of parents of GLBT people) hosted a press conference and lunch. Bishop Chamberlain spoke at the press conference. This was exciting in part because, to my knowledge, he hasn't been an ally who is always out in front for Reconciling... but he was today! Several members of PRN also spoke but the highlight was Rev. Bill Taylor. He is a pastor who has served for 35 years in Texas but has recently had his career and health put in jeopardy because of his support and love for his son Dawson. Dawson is a gay man who now serves the UCC at a church named The Cathdral of Hope in Dallas. I met Dawson when we were college students and went to the "Student Forum" together (that's an international gathering of UMC college students... I'll save it for another blog). All of the speakers from this event are available as a podcast at, check it out if you're interested.
I just want to share one tidbit about it. Bill Taylor said that after his son Dawson came out to him and his wife he prayed to God with all of his heart. He asked God for one of two things: that either his son would become straight or he would learn to accept and understand his son and his heart would change. His prayer was answered!
In the afternoon I went to an orientation for delegates under 30. There are about 45 of us, which I don't think is too shabby. The orientation was well run, but a little awkward given that it was supposed to cover the needs of people ranging in age from high schoolers to 30 year olds (one person confessed to me that even though he was 30, he was 29 when he got elected so he thought he was justified in sneaking in...) I sat next a young man from London who is a representative from the concordant, Methodist Church of Great Britain- not actually a part of the United Methodist Church but it still sends four full delegates to General Conference because of the historic ties between the churches.
Then the real fun began with opening worship at 6:00pm. I was so excited I was practically running laps before we started. Worship is being run by Mark Miller and Marcia McPhee, the two greatest worship leaders God has ever created. It was amazing. Although, when the Bishops marched in with two men holding the episcopal seals on enormous flags, it felt a little like the Roman army was invading.
Bishop Huie preached on Jeremiah 29: 10-14, which I'm sure has been preached on thousands of times in the last few weeks in Methodist churches (that passage contains the line about "a future with hope" where the conference theme comes from).
We went in to a rather tedious opening business section where we basically took forever to adopt the rules of order. Nothing very exciting.
But a member of the New England delegation, my friend We Chang, asked the Bishop to change her language around a motion being "defeated" so that we don't use war and violence language. The Bishop loved the suggestion and it got applause from the gallery! Speaking of which, they estimated that there were 6,500 people in attendance for worship.
Tomorrow we hear the episcopal address, laity address and young people's address. Then we break into committees to elect our officers. (Hope this shorter post is more readable than yesterdays...) Now I'm going to take a shower and shave before I go to bed since I'm leaving for the convention center in five hours...

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