Sunday, June 9, 2013

SWTX Annual Conference: Day 3

Me & my bestie Bishop Jim Dorff
               I decided to sleep in on Saturday; I was greeted in the morning by coffee at my door as well as the beautiful baby of my pastor, Caleb. He was grumpy, much like I was ( it’s why we get along). I rode the shuttle bus to the convention center and got to have great conversations with the most delightful persons who are advanced in year.  The 3rd plenary session reminded me once again that the UMC is a massive bureaucracy as we discussed the Unification Implementation Team’s request to suspend our standing rules – their request was not amendable or debatable so it was really more of an edict than a request. Pensions were brought up and approved, blah blah blah.
               What was really interesting was the move to replace the Rev Abby Parker (Austin District) with Rev Pamela Dykehouse (Corpus Christi), The Corpus Christi District’s argument, from the floor anyway, was that they had no representation on the board that Abby Parker was nominated for, the Transitional Uniting Table. Their assessment was fair, a very American “No taxation without representation”-esque move, but I found it interesting that Victoria District which also wasn't represented on the that Table didn't move in a similar fashion, also I’m surprised that Abby Parker, the only deacon on that Table was the one targeted as well as the Austin District, when the San Antonio District held the most seats. But, I digress – a vote was taken to see who would make the cut and Rev Parker won by the closest of margins, then we moved on to another vote as the Corpus Christi District worked to replace another nominee with their own, their move failed and some members of their district took to Twitter to complain (a move I make myself all the time). Complaints were valid as well; Rev Ryan Barnett tweeted about how unfair it was that the only district that paid 100% of its apportionments wasn't being represented on the Uniting Table or the Unification Team.
Reverend Jasmine Smothers and myself
               Then came our worship service, like a wave of grace. Let me say this, our speaker Rev Jasmine Smothers brought the Word of God in a way that recharged my spiritual batteries. I felt challenged and invigorated as she preached from the Gospel of Mark on the paraplegic man who had friends that brought him to Jesus by way of a hole in the ceiling; their faith caused Jesus to heal their friend. She challenged us to have an encounter with Jesus, then go out and help others encounter Christ as well. I worked through lunch, blogging, but our Bible study on the Gospel of John after lunch was invigorating and refreshing – even filling. John is my favorite of the Gospels and the most complicated, so listening to a person who loves it as much as I do was so much fun. I didn't live on God’s Word alone though, the lovely Joe Tanasi brought me chicken fingers, and they were like manna from Heaven.
Rev. Valerie Vogt & I cheesing it up
               The District Superintendent’s Report brought an amazing surprise, a Mariachi band burst through that doors and proceeded to serenade us all with beautiful music. It. Was. Awesome. After they left we had to get serious and vote on Constitutional Amendments from General Conference 2012, all of them were rather trite so I assume they will all pass.

Eric took the glasses off to show off his clergy fashion
               The Ordination Service is my favorite and it didn't disappoint this year. This year my pastor, Eric Vogt was being commissioned, as he had been a licensed local pastor before and his beautiful wife Valerie was being accepted as an ordained Elder in full-connection with the annual conference. It was so moving to see so many deacons and elders join their peers on their journey of ordained ministry.  I was blessed by the reception getting to see so many people blessed by these people and the ministry of lives was a blessing. Of course I harassed Bishop Dorff and my district superintendent about planting new churches in East Austin. (Yes I’m that lay person) It was a great day, and I am excited for tomorrow morning’s worship service.

It was raining clergy