Delegates from all across the United Methodist Church have gathered in Fort Worth, Texas for 10 days of “holy conferencing” under the slogan of “A Future with Hope.” The UMC’s General Conference takes place every four years. Please pray that God’s Spirit will be evident at General Conference 2008.
You can follow the events of General Conference, including the latest news as well as some audio and video of some of the events here. You can also read petitions and track their progress throughout the 10-day event.
Joleen and I will be tracking Petition 81320, which, if passed, would appear to allow us to be ordained in 2009 instead of 2012. Well, we’re not holding our breath, but it will be interesting to watch. 😀 [EDIT: This petition did not pass, but a similar petition did, which changes the name of “probationary membership” to “provisional membership,” and more significantly, shortens the commissioning process from 3 years to 2. This means, if all stays on track, we will be ordained in 2011.]
Finally, you might want to read United Methodists seek change in tone at assembly. The article includes the following guidelines which were developed to provide an atmosphere where “holy conferencing” can take place …
- Every person is a child of God. Always speak respectfully. One can disagree without being disagreeable.
- As you patiently listen and observe the behavior of others, be open to the possibility that God can change the views of any or all parties in the discussion.
- Listen patiently before formulating responses.
- Strive to understand the experience out of which others have arrived at their views.
- Be careful in how you express personal offense at differing opinions. Otherwise dialogue may be inhibited.
- Accurately reflect the views of others when speaking. This is especially important when you disagree with that position.
- Avoid using inflammatory words, derogatory names or an excited and angry voice.
- Avoid making generalizations about individuals and groups. Make your point with specific evidence and examples.
- Make use of facilitators and mediators.
- Remember that people are defined, ultimately, by their relationship with God – not by the flaws we discover, or think we discover, in their views and actions.
Good guidelines for all of us engaged in ministry together!