Thursday, May 3, 2012

We are a Broken Church but We Will Heal

There really aren't words for what happened this morning during the debate on homosexuality in the church. After petitions were raised saying that we as United Methodists differ on this issue but still love each other, hateful words were shared. One of the translators even had to apologize before she began to translate the cruel harsh words said about lgbtq people that one delegate said. As we voted, we stood along the sides of the bar to be in solidarity with those outside of the bar. The petitions were then voted down and the UMC's stance on homosexuality did not change.

I don't really have much to say other than I am hurt mostly because of the hate expressed during the debate. It was totally uncalled for. Once recess was called, many people gathered at the center communion table inside the bar to weep, pray, and share communion at God's table where ALL are welcome.

I knew it was going to be bad. I knew hurtful things were going to be said, but I never knew how truly painful it would be to see the hurt across all of my friends' faces. I saw this one young man from Tennessee  just sobbing and walking around, not knowing where to go. He had no friends from home who stood with him to comfort him. The was what hurt the most. That this person was in so much pain that he did not even know what to do and had no one there to tell him it was going to be ok. I went over to him and rubbed his back, but there was nothing else I could do for him.

No matter what your stance is on this debate, I urge you to forget it and just pray. Pray for the people in pain. Pray for the people who said hurtful things. Pray for everyone at General Conference and for other United Methodists across the world.

If you want to know more specifics, click the links below. I have no more words except to say I am not giving up on God's call to minister in the United Methodist Church because of this. God put me in this place for a reason and if I, along with others, run away, the necessary change will not be able to happen. After all, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" Amen.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Shake It Out: What Happened to the UMC?

Today has been rough. I could sit here and write for days about the things I am upset about, but it wouldn't be very productive. It will show some of what I am hurting about, but hopefully I will also be able to shed some light on the situation as God is trying to do for me.

I had to refer back to twitter to even remember all that happened. As many of you know one of the biggest pieces of legislation the UMC has been dealing with is the restructure plan for the church. I was on the General Administration committee all last week and watched the hours and hours of work my fellow delegates put in to coming up with a plan that many (including myself) felt was a good compromise. As you know, this plan was voted down along with all of the other plans. This morning a new plan was brought forth. It was in the DCA (Daily Christian Advocate) yesterday and had only been created over a couple of days. Now we were supposed to vote on this new plan called Plan UMC (go to for more info) when we only had a very short amount of time to even read, let alone understand it. Many people got up and argued that we need to do "something" because the whole world was watching (I don't know if I agree with that sentiment that the whole world was watching). While I agree that we do need to do something to revitalize our church, I don't know if I think restructure will help. Furthermore, if we are going to restructure, we need to take a careful look (as in more than a few days) at what this means and what effects it will have on our local churches (not JUST on the general church level). I do not believe that doing "something" for the sake of doing something will be successful. We cannot just put a bandaid called Plan UMC (or any rushed plan for that matter) on all of our churches that can easily fall off; there simply needs to be more care taken. My other issue with taking action on restructuring is that there is a daunting, fearful anxiety in the convention center. I do not this is conducive to making an informed, reasonable, logical, heart-filled, or God-filled decision. We need to take a breath and pause so we can actually feel the Holy Spirit moving through us.

The main part of this new Plan UMC that I, along with many others, did not agree with was the "Committee on Inclusivity." It was claimed by creators of Plan UMC (4 out of 20 were women, majority of the 20 were white) that this committee would do the work of GCORR (General Commission on Religion and Race) and GCSRW (General Commission on the Status and Role of Women). Currently these agencies exist in order to monitor our church and make sure those who are usually marginalized and not given a voice (women and people of color--in this case) are not forgotten. Both agencies also do a lot of important advocacy and work to minimize (and eventually eliminate) racism and sexism in the church and in the world. By getting rid of these agencies, they will not be able to do the necessary monitoring our church needs. You can say that the work will get done as much as you want in this "Committee of Inclusivity," but the new committee is not even a board; it is under a new board of GCSO (General Commission on Strategy and Oversight). This means that the "monitoring" of sexism and racism will get bogged down by other business and eventually forgotten. Furthermore, how is it supposed to do monitoring for GCSO when it is part of the board? More importantly, the General Secretaries of GCORR and GCSRW got up and spoke about how they do NOT want this and how this new committee would not allow their important work to be effective. (FYI the Gen. Secretary of GCORR tweeted that the implications of keeping these agencies separate would only be a 1% increase of funds). Creators of Plan UMC had previously said that these General Secretaries along with "everybody" (whatever that means) were included in the creation of this plan. This was a blatant lie. People from MFSA were not included and the neither were the General Secretaries of GCORR and GCSRW (according to their own words).

When the motion to amend Plan UMC by keeping GCORR and GCSRW separate agencies failed, I lost a lot of hope for the UMC. This vote clearly showed that we do not believe racism and sexism are important issues or even exist anymore. I spent my entire college career learning about the issues of racism and sexism and how they are rampant in our society. I spent years learning about how we can work for social justice to fix these very important and relevant issues. All of that just went out of the window. I do not even know anything else I can say about that except that it is a slap in the face to many who a part of the UMC.

 After a couple more minor amendments, the new restructure plan was passed. However, because of the possibility of constitutional and financial effects, it was sent off to the Judicial Council and General Commission on Finance and Administration (GCFA). So UMC, get ready to embrace a whole new church. All I kept saying to myself was "what did you do with the church that I loved?"

 At this point I did not really know how to feel. What happened, happened. We have to accept it and figure out where to go from here. The votes that kept going through always came out 60% on one side and 40% on the other. When it came to the vote on supporting our hurting Palestinian Christian brothers and sisters, we at least agreed to create a Resolution to do so in our Social Principles. However, when it came to taking action, we once again stalled. The issue is that Israel is oppressively occupying Palestine and taking over more and more of their land. One great (in my opinion) way to take action against this oppression and support Palestine (which we just resolved to do) was to divest from big corporations supporting this occupation: Caterpillar, Motorola, and HP. I just want to clarify that in no way am I an expert on this issue. I am getting my information from fellow delegates and with that information it makes sense to me that divestment is the answer. Also, those who had witnessed in person the horrible and violent oppression of Palestinians gave testimony saying we NEED to divest because negotiations from these corporations were not working. In the end, specific wording to divest was removed from the petition and much softer language passed, not creating a definite statement that the UMC supports divestment.

As I said yesterday, I am upset about the decisions made, but I am even more upset about how they were made. There were blatant lies said, manipulation going on, and backdoor deals being made. I know, I know this is church politics, but what happened to the church part? This is not the loving, grace-filled, Jesus-following denomination I know. However, all we can do at this point is "Shake it Out" ( and trust in God.

I want to conclude with a conversation I had with a hotel guest (not from general conference) on the elevator last night. She asked me what I was here for because she saw my name tag. I explained that we as the UMC meet every four years to vote on our social beliefs, doctrine, and discipline of the church. She looked at me for a minute, the elevator dinged, she stepped out, and as the doors were closing said, "Does Jesus get a vote?"

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Where is the Love?: Another hard day at GC

Today has been a hard day for many people at General Conference and in the greater United Methodist Church. Tough decisions have been made, trust has been broken, and morale is low for many. However, God is still sending messages of hope and light through a time of anxiety and darkness.

The confusion started this morning as delegates gathered for opening plenary. Part of our parliamentary process includes going over items on the “consent calendar.” These items are often grouped together and voted upon quickly if they are not pulled off of the consent calendar to be discussed on the floor. If you accept the consent calendar as it stands it means you are voting to pass the committees’ recommendation (when asking a delegate about rules regarding what would happen if the majority voted no on the consent calendar she told me that has never happened; you would just get signatures to pull items off of the consent calendar).

 Now that you are caught up to speed with this process (hopefully), I will continue with the issue that occurred. The issue of guaranteed appointment to a church for ordained elders (ordained pastors who are not deacons) was on the consent calendar. The consent calendar was then accepted by a large majority. All of a sudden chaos broke out all over the “twitter-verse.” I do not think a lot of the delegates on the floor realized what they had just voted on. They had just voted to get rid of guaranteed appointments for pastors because that was the recommendation on the consent calendar that they accepted. I started tweeting the mistake (in my perception) to a seated delegate on my delegation and she was able to inform others. It turned out that my perception was true and many of my fellow delegates voted to accept the consent calendar without realizing what was on it.

Finally the head of our delegate got up to make a movement of reconsideration which was met by many relieved facial expressions of those watching and those on the floor. Of course we had to vote on whether it could be reconsidered and with a very shocking and upsetting vote (for many, not all) the reconsideration was shot down. In other words there would be absolutely no discussion or debate on guaranteed appointments; they were no more.

The feelings many of my delegation, including myself, struggled with were not those of winning or losing the vote. Our feelings were hurt because there was no discussion, no consideration of the voice of those who were affected by the decision. I am still not sure if I agree with guaranteed appointment or not because I can see both sides. On one hand it allows for the ability to remove ineffective pastors. On the other hand it creates room for discrimination and oppression as pastors could be deemed “ineffective” when it is really because the congregation does not like that they are a woman, person of color, gay, or many other identities that are considered the “minority” group. Another issue that arises with this loss is that young clergy are very unlikely to own assets, specifically a home, to go to if they do not receive an appointment. This is a personal concern for me because I am going to seminary in the fall, right out of college, and I am counting on my housing to be provided because I will be a pastor. Where will I go if there is no appointment for me or if I am deemed ineffective by a church that can’t see past my sex/gender or age? What about a pastor who is going to retire in two years who has never owned a home in her whole life and her husband is already retired? What if she needs to leave her congregation (for whatever reason) and isn’t given another appointment because what church would want a new pastor who will only be there for less than two years? Where will she go? What about health benefits? These are the questions that delegates were not even allowed to ask. 
Whether you are for or against guaranteed appointment, I think it was very unfair that there was no discussion or consideration of the reality many pastors could and will now face.

Shortly after this issue occurred, another petition was brought to the floor regarding the preamble of our Social Principles. There was a motion to amend and amendment to the recommendation to say that “we stand united in declaring our faith that God’s grace is available to all, that NOTHING can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.” The original amendment used specific wording (which I cannot seem to find now that I try to look it up) about what cannot separate us from the love of God. The wonderful young woman who got up to make this amendment to the amendment quoted Romans 8:38-39 which blatantly says “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” And yet there was still debate as to whether God’s grace is available to all and if anything could separate us from His love.

At this point, another delegation member and I held hands and started humming Amazing Grace as we waited for this ridiculous vote. It still boggles my mind, and the minds of many others that this was up for vote. One of my tweets in that moment was “I wish God would come and say ‘how many times do I really have to tell you that I love you and everyone. Get it together UMC.’” When the votes finally came in, the motion was only accepted by 53%. Only 53% of people on that floor believed that God’s grace is available to all and that nothing can separate us from the love of God. I really do not know what else to say to that except “Lord have mercy.” I am still not completely over it, but all I can do is thank God that it passed. I am really sick of the people (and I know it is not everyone) who are seeing General Conference as a game that you win or lose at; this has REAL implications on the local church that are going to become evident once these rules go into effect.

Now for the hope part so I don’t make everyone else depressed. Despite all of this chaotic mess, I have found small places of hope throughout this day. I have been able to have wonderful and sincere fellowship with members of my delegation that I didn’t previously know. I have had delicious gelato (which some of us have decided is a gift from God) that has led to great connectionalism in the UMC. I have also had genuine, open, and honest holy conversations with people who do not agree with me on important issues that have been AMAZING; I am so blessed to have had those (that one probably gave me the most hope today). Finally, as I walked back for worship tonight and clouds were gathering over the river, rays of sunlight started breaking through those clouds; it was truly a beautiful sign (see picture below).

At this point all I can ask for is prayer. I do not know what is happening to our church because it does not look like the United Methodist Church I know anymore. I am not just talking about how the rules are changed, I am talking about the rudeness, the sneakiness, and the dishonesty I have seen when we are supposed to be Christians and love each other. I do not apologize for this “Debbie-downer” of a blog post because it is the truth of what it actually happening at General Conference. I know that I am not perfect and this blog post is not about me sitting here and complaining about things not going “my way.” It’s about how we need to start acting like the Christians we claim to be; that should be our “Call to Action.” I am sick of seeing the hatred and harm from both sides of the playing field; it isn’t right. So please, please pray for us and I know that many of you are (I thank you), but we really do need comfort and peace because our church is broken in more ways than one.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Point of Order: A Week of General Administration

I want to apologize for not keeping this as up to date as I wanted. Tuesday morning my roommate who is a New England delegate on the General Administration committee had to fly back to New Hampshire to see the birth of her new grandchild. That meant I was officially on General Administration as a voting delegate (hence my being to busy to write a blog).

I learned a lot this week as one of four young adult delegates on the GAdmin (general administration) committee. Our voices had to be extra loud as we were smothered by many of those who were older than ours. After lots of debate on how to actually proceed we finally broke into 3 subcommittees: 1 on restructure of the church, and 2 on other GAdmin business. We also voted to use UMC Plan B as the starting point of our restructure (instead of IOT/CT plan Call to Action). The subcommittee working on restructure consisted of 3 delegates repping MFSA, 3 delegates repping IOT, 3 delegates repping Plan B, 6 delegates from Central Conferences outside of USA (which I got up and moved to include to make sure those voices were heard), and 3 US delegates of racial/ethnic minority. Because the other 3 young adults were included in this committee I joined one of the other subcommittees.

I want to clarify before continuing that anything passes in committee is a recommendation and not binding. The final vote comes from the plenary floor this week where all delegates are present.

My subcommittee worked on various petitions. One of the petitions was about making Disability Awareness Sunday a Special Sunday (meaning a special offering would be required). I moved to adopt this petition and spoke about how this is a wonderful ministry that is often under-represented. The motion passed in committee!

As my subcommittee continued to work, I noticed that there was a all of consideration for those who did not speak English. We were moving way too fast and it was hard for the translators to keep up with what was going on. For example, our subcommittee chair would call discussion on the motion and then almost immediately say we were ready to vote. By the time people who did not speak English were told "discussion" we had already voted. I called a "point of order" and stood up to speak about how this was not fair and we need to slow down. Our subcommittee chair proceeded much more slowly from that point on. I also spoke up about how young people's voices need to be heard. I got many thumbs-ups under the table from Central Conference delegates who didn't speak English.

Another huge issue our subcommittee discussed was a petition on a resolution for full inclusiveness in the church (specifically those who identified as lgtbq- lesbian, gay, bisexual,transgender, queer). I spoke up to give a speech for adopting this petition, but started to get emotional as I spoke about many of my friends who identify as lgbtq and aren't welcomed in the church as a whole. In order to center myself I picked up my iPhone to read from my notepad app. Our subcommittee chair called me out for using my iPhone and accused me of using someone else's words in my speech and said that what I was saying wasn't actually how I felt about the issue. I explained that her assumption was wrong and that this is how young people take notes...most of us don't use paper. She let me proceed with my speech, but at this point all I could do was cry. I felt so disempowered and knew my validity was now in question. After our subcommittee finished, our chair came over to apologize on the side. However, I told the other young adults on GAdmin what happened and they said I should ask for a public apology. The subcommittee chair agreed and the next day she began with a wonderful and sincere apology. My voice was once again empowered. I was then able to successfully motion to refer the petition on full inclusiveness to the General Board of Church and Society committee.

The rest of the time spent in GAdmin was intense! Saturday was the last chance for us to have a restructure plan in order to present it to the floor. After hours of work the restructure subcommittee presented an amended Plan B with many amendments coming from the MFSA plan. Then someone from Plan B got up and moved to adopt the new plan without amendments!! This meant the original Plan B was back on the table. Her motion got struck down after young adults (including myself) as well as others called her out on point of orders (going against rules). Then parliamentary rules told us the current plan on the table was now the IOT plan! However, members of IOT and Adam Hamilton (UMC celebrity/author and pastor of a mega church) got up to present a brand new plan!!! They had been working on it behind the scenes (this presentation was the third one by the IOT/CT and many people were getting annoyed). This new plan called Uniting Our Church was also voted down. At this point a massive (and I mean MASSIVE) crowd had gathered behind us to watch. Now the original IOT was on the table again, but then the parliamentary bishop said she was wrong. That meant the only plan that was eligible to vote on was the MFSA plan!!! That too got voted down and we were left (after going over the time for an hour) with NO plan to present to the floor. Absolute chaos and shock.

Amidst the confusion and chaos, I feel blessed that I was able to learn so much and have a voice at the table. I have met many wonderful young adults and others who have been very supportive. Last night the young adults rallied for a voice in the UMC and actually got a lot of support. I pray this support is acted upon when it comes to the final vote on the plenary floor this week.

Finally, our New England delegate returned as the grandmother of a beautiful baby boy. I will now have more time to write blogs as I will not necessarily be on the plenary floor. Thanks for reading!

P.S. I apologize for typos as I'm writing this from my iPhone.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

No More Boxes!: Conference Day 2

                Many amazing and inspiring things have happened so far on this second day of conferencing. I was able to hear opening addresses, inspiring young adult speeches during lunch, and even attended a peaceful conferencing in the General Administrating legislative committee. God truly is among us as we gather for the UMC General Conference; I just hope all of our hearts are open to hear his true call.
                New England’s first elected lay delegate graciously let me sit in her seat for this morning’s opening plenary session. From this chair on the floor I was able to hear New England’s own Bishop Peter Weaver give the episcopal address. Let me tell you, this man can preach! Throughout his whole message, alleluias, amens, and tweets were flying from the congregation. His prophetic message was about a “resurrection revolution” and how we as United Methodists and as true Disciples of Christ are called to act missionally in this world. Bishop Weaver stressed that “our mission is not to make more members to help us save the church, but more disciples to help in God’s work of saving the world.” He also believes that “if God can bring to life the crucified Christ, [then] surely God can bring to life a calcified church;” truly inspiring words. As Bishop continued with his inspiring sermon, he also brought up how the UMC Discipline should be a tool of liberation, not regulation or oppression. I pray that everyone sitting in that room was not only listening, but also planning to act on this inspiring prophetic message.
                The Holy Spirit in the room continued to move as we heard the laity address shared by three people: Betty Spiwe Katiyo from Zimbabwe, Steven Furr from the US, and Amory Peck also from the US. Each of these persons spoke about transformation, how they have experienced it in their own lives and their vision for the UMC. One of Katiyo’s biggest moments was when she spoke about how the “laity is not intended to be passive consumers of religion…We are called to action.” Furr spoke about his own personal transformation (losing weight) and challenged us to be a living sermon instead of just preaching one. Finally, Peck coined the phrase “It it’s to be, it’s up to me” in order to send a missional message to the UMC.
                Now, if we weren’t already inspired, the young people’s address brought enthusiasm and excitement as we heard from Krin Ali from the US and Joy Eva Algodon-Bohol from the Philippines (via live Skype). They both stressed the importance of rejuvenating the church by involving young people in leadership positions. Young people at GC2012 have now adopted the phrase “Charged, Rooted, United” as a battle cry to get young people involved! Ali said “everything you do means nothing if it’s not from the heart!” The UMC needs to wake up and realize that Jesus’ message is about love…are we truly opening our hearts, minds, and doors to everyone? Young people are inspired, feeling empowered, and yet is there room for us in the UMC? One very thought-provoking “tweet” that blasted through twitter during the young people’s address said “Jesus died at 33. Just sayin’ UMC, young people can lead. Don’t just include them but let them lead.” If Jesus was among us today as a member of the UMC at 25 years old, even 30 years old…would we let him lead or would we be not as welcoming because he is a young person?
I will conclude this blog post with one final message from a young person (Tyler Sit) who spoke at MFSA/RMN’s speaker series this afternoon: “young adults do not like being put in boxes!” It’s time to break down the walls of our church boxes, step out in the community, and truly become a connectional church.

Want to get more involved on the action of GC2012? Go to, follow me on Twitter (@anniemac24), and/or search for #gc2012 on Twitter.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Charged, Rooted, United!: Day 1, Part

Well the first half of GC2012 is off to an inspiring start! I attended the Young Delegate Briefing this morning and concluded the first half of my day with a meeting of Progressive Delegates. I was also able to enjoy a free lunch and meet wonderful people at the MFSA and RMN tent.

The Young Delegate Briefing was open to all delegates 30 or younger and headed by YPMGBOD (Young People Ministries of the General Board of Discipleship). We started the briefing with a list of goals which included creating a support network for young delegates and connecting with peer prayer partners. The overall purpose of this briefing was to create a safe space for young delegates to build transforming relationships. We also found out that there is a Young Delegate Lounge open to delegates 30 or younger. The lounge will allow young delegates to "relax and network without the influence of non-delegates and/or older delegates."

 For the rest of our time together during the briefing we broke up into groups of 5-6 people in order to have circle dialogues. The circle dialogues allowed us to get to know one another, reflect on issues of the UMC, and discuss positive questions about the UMC. The first question raised was "describe a time when you witnessed the UMC at its best." Some insights shared in my group included UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) and its work to help those recovering from natural disasters, youth ministry, and breaking out of the confined space of a church building to truly reach the community. The second question we discussed was "give one exciting example of what the UMC could look like in 10 years if we started laying the foundation at GC2012." One member of my group thought there needed to be better individual relationships between pastors and young members of their churches. Speaking from his experience, he thought it would be helpful for pastors to have one-on-one mentoring meetings with the youth of their churches. During this discussion another person expressed concern about local churches assuming things are going to get better just because we restructure the church. He, along with others (and myself), felt that we truly need to be more welcoming and open to youth. I suggested that the church should reach out to people (especially youth) instead of assuming that they are going to come to us. We need to break that boundary and stop being so exclusive and uninviting (it is very intimidating to go into a church building if you have never been in one before or have had bad experiences in an unwelcoming church). After our discussions, we concluded with a very powerful message: "Go out there and give 'em HEAVEN!"

After a lovely free lunch in the MFSA and RMN tabernacle, the Progressive Delegates gathered to meet one another and break into legislative groups. Although I am a First-Reserve Delegate, I am focusing on the General Administration Committee since New England's delegate on that committee could end going home (she is expected to become a grandmother!). The conversations shared during this time were very interesting and informative. I will give a brief overview of what is going on in General Administration according to Progressive Delegates and workers of MFSA.

MFSA has been trying to find common ground and work with those on the IOT/CT Call to Action Plan for restructure as well as those on the UMC Plan B. Apparently some changes have been made to both the CTA and Plan B restructuring plans.

CTA seems willing to adjust some of their original proposals and has even gotten rid of their proposal of a 15 member board (changing it to a 45 member board). The CTA is also endorsing advisory committees for each office instead of an individual board. They also believe GCFA should be a separate entity.

Plan B has modified their plan in terms of language regarding the purposes of agencies. They have changed language regarding GBCS (General Board of Church and Society) causing monitoring to be reportable to GC.

MFSA believes that there are significant differences between the CTA and their own proposal. MFSA is also concerned with Plan B because the CT (connectional table) would be very controlling (reviewing evaluations and removing funding from agencies). MFSA also feels that neither plan adequately provides strong membership of the Central Conferences. Although all three plans are finding some common ground, MFSA hopes to create more.

Other thoughts expressed from the Progressive Delegates included concern that many UMs believe that we need young, new, and diverse members but no one is listening to young, new, and diverse members, who overall (according to young delegates in that committee) do NOT favor the IOT's or UMC Plan B's plans. Many young people feel that the legislation was hurried from all sides, so should we refer the restructure to the next GC?

Overall, many great conversations are happening. There are many questions still unanswered, but hopefully, through the grace of God, we will be able to discern what is best. I will post another update later tonight after our opening sessions and opening worship. Thank you for your prayers.

Some great resources for information on the restructure include MFSA's website ( and UMC Plan B's website ( Also feel free to follow me on Twitter (@anniemac24) and read the feed #gc2012.

Monday, April 23, 2012

First Day in Tampa

My day started off with pouring rain, 44 degree weather, and a flight delay, but ended with warm weather and a warm heart. This blog post will be short because most of my day was spent traveling, but I did get to have a lovely evening in the tabernacle of MFSA (Methodist Federation for Social Action) and RMN (Reconciling Ministries Network).

The tabernacle is truly a space where the Holy Spirit is at work and conference has not even begun! Sharing the ministries of "Love Your Neighbor" campaign, the tabernacle offers a space for fellowship, free food (breakfast and lunch), and wonderful witness (daily speakers). Tonight the space was filled with delegates from all over the world as MFSA and RMN hosted an International Hospitality Dinner Program. During this time I was able to reconnect with fellow delegates from my home conference, New England, as well as meet people from MFSA and RMN who are truly inspiring. My evening in the tabernacle concluded with a message from Bishop Yvette A. Flunder. She stressed the importance of not only having "open hearts, open minds, and open doors," but also having an open table of communion. Bishop Flunder also mentioned that communion did not have to be the traditional bread and cup, but could be chicken or even a salad (members from New England's delegation seemed partial to the chicken). Her point was that all should feel welcome and comfortable with the meal of communion and in the United Methodist Church it is a symbol of Christ's love and grace.

That's it for major news as the conference officially starts tomorrow. Please keep all of the delegates and the whole denomination in your prayers as we search for where God is calling the United Methodist Church.

If you'd like more updates follow me on twitter: @anniemac24. You can also follow the live feed by searching for #gc2012 and even get in on the conversation.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Twas the Night Before Conference

Tonight as I finish packing to leave for General Conference tomorrow, I have many thoughts going through my head. I am very excited to get to Tampa, meet and worship with people from all over the world, learn about different perspectives, and prayerfully discern where God is calling the United Methodist Church.

For those of you reading this who might not know me personally I will give you a little background information. I have been a part of Epworth United Methodist Church in New England my whole life. When I was 14 years old, I felt God's call toward ordained ministry. I attended college at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, majoring in Psychology, while becoming more and more involved with social justice work and community service. It was there that I discovered that God was calling me not only toward ordained ministry, but also toward working for social justice. Last year during New England's Annual Conference I was elected as first alternate for GC 2012. In November I became a declared candidate for ministry in the UMC. I graduated a semester early from UMass in December (I currently substitute teach in Worcester) and I plan to attend Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Chicago in the fall.

My hope for General Conference 2012 is to learn a lot and I know that I will. I have a huge passion for Jesus Christ and his work of true social justice and community outreach. I also hope that we can practice holy conferencing and understand that more often than not, opinions are shaped by experience. I pray that the United Methodist Church can truly uphold its motto of "Open Hearts, Open Minds, and Open Doors."

See you in Tampa!