Yesterday at General Conference we finally made it to our committee meetings. I’m working with the local church group, responsible for how local congregations operate.
By Brian Sheetz, East Ohio Delegate and Executive Director of the East Ohio United Methodist Foundation.
This is the section of the Book of Discipline that talks about Charge Conferences, committees, all that good stuff.
In our first introductory meeting we (and all of the other committees) considered some basic questions. One of them concerned the nature of a global Discipline and how it affects our work.
I got stuck on this one.
Thursday’s plenary session began with the introduction of, and praying for, representatives from affiliated autonomous churches, affiliated united churches, and concordant churches.
East Ohio Conference delegates share their thoughts following the first day of Legislative Committee Meetings:
“During the first day in our legislative committee, I felt and experienced both excitement and frustrations – but at the same time the appreciation for the respect and trust in holy conferencing. There is always something to learn even to the point of holy disagreement. But the good news is that God is still working in us!”
- Armando Arellano, Global Ministries Committee
“I am serving on a 40 member General Administration sub-committee whose focus is considering petitions relating to structural changes to the various general church agencies as well as the petition known as Plan UMC Revised. The full legislative committee reviewed and acted to approve, not approve, or to refer 7 petitions out of the current 42 petitions currently assigned to the General Administration legislative committee. I have enjoyed meeting and talking with many of the members of the legislative sub-committee, support team staff, pages, marshals, and visitors. Rev. Dr. David McDonald, a clergy member from our conference was one of our committee’s pages and Rev. Jared Littleton was present as a visitor and observer. It always great to see our East Ohio folks.”
- Dr. Gary George, General Administration Committee
“I am thankful for the broad diversity in our midst. The initial day in committee was spent organizing our work in two primary areas of reviewing petitions: doctrine and ordination/praxis. I know the first day has been mild in tone and I imagine more energetic discussions to come as we seek to love one another amidst real differences. And yet, I am hopeful because our hearts are united in Christ’s love and the call to follow Jesus and encounter others with a humble heart. May it be so.”
- Dan Bryant, Faith and Order Committee
“On my first day of discussion of petitions, I found myself addressing a social justice issue that I had hoped would not surface until I had a little bit of experience. It was difficult to determine how I did, because I do not know other people on my committee and was challenged to figure out how to say what needed to be said. I prayed often and God gave me the right words and held my tongue when it was best to keep quiet. It was important that my voice not silence others, but I also struggled with those who attempted to silence me. At the end of the day, I was surrounded by people thanking me for speaking, for my passion, and for my support. I thank God for trusting me to communicate on behalf of others who could not be in the room.”
- Martha Banks, Church & Society Committee
“What a joy to get into our committee meetings. The plenary sessions have been political and frustrating, but in our committee we discussed the first of the petitions we were to consider affecting the Local Church. There was certainly some disagreement but we talked, listened and prayed. We respected each other and voted, not with our separate agendas, but as a group of 30 some United Methodists deeply concerned about our church. I look forward to reconvening Friday to find more of the sense of purpose I enjoyed so much.”
- Brian Sheetz, Local Church Committee