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 (http://www.mfsagc12.org/) and UMC Plan B's website (www.umcplanb.org). Also feel free to follow me on Twitter (@anniemac24) and read the feed #gc2012.


  1. As someone who was a GC young adult delegate 20 years ago I am glad to hear they have created spaces for you to connect. We were left to our own devices. God's blessing on your work in the days that lie ahead.

  2. Great reporting, Thank you for this. I look forward to reading more of your thoughts and experiences. Keep it up. You are transforming the world!

  3. Sounds like you've been doing this for years...you've got the UMC lingo down! Take it all in and give it all you've got! There will be time to sleep later...

  4. Very informative, Annie. I wish Paul was at a stage where he could read your blog comments. I know he would approve very much.
    Will continue to read them - thank you so much for sharing. It brings the many discussions alive. Learn loads as we know you will. Joan