Adventures in Conferencing...

Today completes day 2 of the Annual Conference here in Athens. The score to date:
Laity: 9 Clergy: 0

Laity have elected 9 of their 14 delegates and the clergy have only gotten one ballot done thanks to computer errors. So no delegates elected yet from the clergy.

However, voting and legislation are only part of conference. There can be a number of ways to look at this. For me, I'm trying to look at this time through the eyes of my own journey of authentic faith. I indicated earlier that for me, I'm reflecting on the nature of conferencing in our tradition. As I have been nametagging for the last two months, I've learned the power of connecting but what of conferencing? Conferencing was an important aspect of early Methodist Christians. It was one of the 5 Instituted Means of Grace which John Wesley saw in the life of Jesus.

Regarding this issue issue of conferencing, Dean G. Blevins writes:
Generally the term might be used to include all of Methodism in its various social groups. The emphases of Wesley's groups were spiritual renewal, mutual accountability, mutual responsibility, and Christian practice in the world.

Our connectional system is intended to harken back to this. However, many aspects of the connection have been lost such as the penitent bands and the class meetings (not to be confused with Sunday School unless a Sunday School follows those rules of Wesley's).

My observation has been that there is a much more respectful attitude for differing view points at this year's Annual Conference as opposed to recent elections. All sides have found a way to have voice for their points of view. As one of our newly elected lay delegates said, "Our elections are unque form of Christian conferencing." What we are seeing is great ideas represented by great people being expressed in a great process towards a greater purpose.

May this be the spirit which continues to carry us through.

And May I Ask: What great idea do you have that needs a voice? How will you become that voice?


archaeoj said...

Thanks for posting some news and views from the N.Ga.Conference. If there is an "official" site for conference election results and significant happenings, I have not yet come upon it. Regarding your comment about secretive vs. open campaigning, I think there is also an element of organizational ability and resources involved. And I have not met any one calling their candidate reflections "secret" or intending to keep their discussions out of the light. Is that your word or is it used by the groups you infer are drawing together lists of favored candidates?

And congratulations for accepting the mantle of ordination! Welcome to the conference.

Ken L. Hagler said...

Thank you for the word of welcome. It is nice to have that part of my journey behind me;)

I am not currently aligned with any caucus though I certainly have my own bias. Beyond the Wesleyan Covenant Group, I am aware of the African-American caucus and one another which is "said" to have a phone number for those interested (I cannot confirm this)

In the elections of 2003, there was a list circulated by an organized group. This led to the issue being discussed in the clergy session in recent years.

I know clergy who have been approached by more than one caucus regarding their voting or stance. It maybe the implications of the term "secret" is too strong. However, as one new to the voting process on the clergy side, I've only seen one caucus openly provide a list of candidates and issues in both print and web format.

I think it important too to consider the divides among clergy revealed in the report from our days apart this last spring. Mark Sargent's letter in the Wesleyan Christian Advocate also reflects, I think, the results of not acknowledging and engaging our differences.

I'm not sure about the organizational ability and resources involved. E-mails are available for virtually every clergy and multible web services for posting are available for free.

When I came as a lay delegate in 1999, I got to hear from those delegates. It seems more ought to be done to help clergy express the same.

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