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.


  1. Thanks for your hard work on behalf of us all! I know it's hard...and you are all in our prayers. It is great to hear your perspective from the inside, since it is often difficult to sit on the sidelines of such important work.

  2. Annie - sounds like difficult work. It's interesting to hear how things happen. Disappointing to hear how even this body can make assumptions; certainly an experience to grow and learn from. You are in our thoughts prayers. Karen Rayla