General Conference Day Five
Holy conferencing can work. The committee I was observing had a complex piece of legislation to consider. There was not agreement about how to proceed. They did something unusual. Instead of using the legislative process that is at the heart of general conference, the two people who were identified with the opposing views had a conversation. They listened to one another to see where they did have agreement, and what were the core philosophical pieces on which they could find common ground. From there, they invited others into a process of holy conferencing. They asked permission of the subcommittee to take a small group to go off and talk about these key components and then together write legislation that they believed could be supported.
This team took the better part of an afternoon and morning to work. Again, they listened to one another to see what the concerns were that each needed to address. They gave on issues that were not critical that they knew the others could not support. They worked together to write legislation that they hoped would make a complex process simpler. After all this work, they brought back their proposal to the committee and it was passed with little debate.
I don’t know if the legislation will make it through the plenary next week. I don’t even know if it is better legislation than what is currently in the Book of Discipline. But I was impressed with the process. It gives me hope. People who disagree can come together to work for the well being of the whole church. I have often said how we live and work together as the body of Christ is as important as what we do together. Today I saw that in action.