Friday, April 25, 2008

general conference, so far

It is Friday evening, I think. We have been at this for most of a couple of days. Most groups have not moved much beyond organizational processes, which are incredibly complex, sometimes to the point of absurdity. The plenary sessions have been heavily scripted, with teleprompters, the arena darkened, so that those present are not able to take notes, or read books, or catch up on other important work! There seems to be a subdued atmosphere; maybe we have not gotten to the real work, maybe it will stay in this mode. There were several "state of the church" addresses: the council of bishops, the connectional table, youth, laity. Reader's theater seems to be the preferred rhetorical style; it allows for different voices, and matches the heavily scripted style of the week. It is odd, however, as I can't remember experiencing reader's theater in years.

I am on the Global Ministries legislative committee. There are approximately 72 of us, speaking ten different languages. My sub-committee (of ten) is working on a number of issues: Israeli-Palestinian relationships, fair trade practices, global HIV ministry, a ministry plan for Latin America and the Carribean, and for Pacific Islanders, etc. We are on a dinner break, and will reconvene at 7:30 p.m. My subcommittee chair is from the Congo, and speaks French with an interpreter. The Central Conference delegates are much more engaged with it all than in 2004 and that is to the good.

I have met a number of old friends, some working in general agencies, some in theological schools, some fellow pastors. I have seen a number of Bishops, and have met a few people who I only knew by name or reputation. It is all very interesting, and some of it does actually relate to the local church that I serve.

We are staying about seven miles away, a daily bus trip of 30-40 minutes each way. The days are long, and again the organizational processes are somewhat tedious, but I think it will all start to stir over the weekend. There is severely limited access to computers, so I hope to blog more substantively later.


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