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!