August 12, 2011

If You Don't Think General Conference Effects You, Think Again...Hard

The UM Reporter came in the mail yesterday. You need to read it. Look on the first page at the article entitled, UMC body recommends big changes. Then continue reading on the back page. Look carefully at the discussion of the "guaranteed" appointment and note two things.

First, when the bishops talk about streaming-lining the process, they actually do mean that bishops and DSs will make the decision. Please hear this. I can witness to the fact that Cabinets do abuse their power to appoint or not appoint. I have seen this in our Conference under more that one bishop and in a couple of other Conferences. Abuses associated with naming someone as "unappointable" do happen. Naturally, no one thinks their ministry is ineffective, so many think that losing the guaranteed appointment will not effect them. But this is not true. This is not true. Surprise, clergy do not really have a guaranteed appointment now. The fact is that there needs to be greater accountability by the Cabinet, recourse for the pastor, and checks on the power of the bishop. I have witnessed fear and intimidation tactics used and it isn't a pretty site. If you don't think this can happen to you, it can and it might.

Second, if most Conferences are like ours, the delegates elected to General Conference have not been in the ministry very long--at least at that level. Of those elected clergy in our conference, only one has been to General Conference before. While I'm all for fresh thinking, there is also a price to be paid for inexperience. And with all the possible changes to the Church, inexperience will be a handicap.

Having been to General Conference (as an observer only and not a delegate), I can say that General Conference is as political as any government body. If you know your delegates, please urge them to prepare well but also ask them to contact other delegates in other Conferences to begin building coalitions now. Also attend the pre-conference briefings. If you aren't having any, insist that you do and then go. There are a lot of proposed changes--sadly driven by a lack of money and frustration over membership decline. And we all know that poor decisions result when they are made in fear and trepidation.

All I am saying is General Conference decisions will effect you. Insist on getting the facts. Be informed. Communicate with those elected to represent you to make sure they do.

Grace, Kathy

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