Saturday, June 9, 2012

Unification Debate/Vote: Annual Conference Day 2


Stained glass UMC Cross & Flame
Day 2 of Annual Conference began. I tried so very hard to wake up and make my way to the Methodists Renewal Movement breakfast just to see what they are all about. Unfortunately my spirit was willing, but my flesh was weak, I did not wake up for it. But I did manage to make it to the conference center in time for 8AM Communion services. I went to this wonderful service where we wrote/drew out our failures to bring Christ to others, then repented of those failures by shredding them in front of the Cross. We partook of the body and blood, then left the service singing praises taking our shreds of failure as a reminded that God can turn our sorrow into dancing.
Our first plenary session started out so slowly and so boring. It was about an hour of the heads of boards and committees talking. One great thing was the recognition of persons that are to be ordained and commissioned this Saturday. It was really great because the deacon of my home church was being commissioned and brought into full membership in our AC. Of course the focus of this session was on the unification of the two conferences. Everyone in leadership was agreed that this unification is necessary, they just have to get all of the lay and clergy delegates on board with the plan.
I almost spoke at the mic during in the midst of our conference's discussion on the potential unification of the SWTX Conference and the Rio Grande Conference. I was so frustrated by the lack of consideration for our brothers and sisters in the RGC, and also on the focus so maybe people were placing on how it would affect them financially. The only speech in that mentioned concern for the representation of the RGC in this union was a speech against unification given by a sweet elderly black woman, who essentially argued that she did not want this unification to take place because she was afraid that the Hispanics/Latinos in these churches will not be aptly represented in our church leadership, and that our conference's only goal in this unification was just a way to get Hispanics in our churches without working to reach them on our own. I saw her point's validity, and to some extent I agree. But for me this unification is so much more than just trying to reach more Latino people, it is about our AC repenting for the injustices it committed to this community over 150 years ago, it's about telling those people that we are sorry we wronged them and we want to make it right.

My problem with our conference was primarily was that money was being lifted up where Jesus should have been. So much so that I wondered why we were all really here. If our conference is really only about budgets and money then we are in the wrong business, but if we are about our Father’s business, which is tending to those in need and serving Jesus Christ; then reconciling with our brothers and sister in the RGC is necessary.
Myself and Ms. Joanne
I had lunch at the MFSA/RMN luncheon and it was amazing. The food was Tex-Mex (of course, and Jim Winkler, the General Secretary of the General Board of Church and Society. Jim Winkler spoke about the Church and “Growth Through Justice, he referenced different types of social justice movements that prompted the Church to grow. “Good works are the innate response to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”, Winkler said and as he spoke to over 200 Methodists concerned with social issues and serving Christ in this world. He spoke fluently and eloquently about what justice really is: “Justice is about righteousness!” The lunch was started by recognizing University UMC (in Austin) with the Community Achievement Award for Justice, and Ms.. Joanne was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Jim Winkler and myself
The second plenary session, went smoothly. We recognized our retiring clergy and their spouses, it was beautiful seeing the servants of God being recognized for all they have done. We prayed and thanked God for them.
I went with a group of young clergy and delegates to discuss our Church’s present and future. It was a beautiful night and it was filled with wonderful conversation. It seems everytime I feel that this Church is no longer worth fighting for or staying in, the Creator forces me into situations which remind me that the Holy Spirit is very present, and is doing something new. My faith and hope in the Church restored, I will continue to wade into these waters, trusting that God will part them, and get me into the promised land. Amen.