The season of conferencing
Greetings in Christ Jesus:
It goes without saying that we are in the season of conferencing as United Methodists. The General Conference is just finished and the Annual, Jurisdictional and Central conferences are just ahead. I look forward to greeting many of you at Annual Conference in Peoria.
A column like this should attempt to or presume that it can cover an entire General Conference and the vast implications of the actions of the same. That should be done deliberately not impulsively over a considerable period of time. But allow me to make a few observations with the promise of more to come.
1. This issue of the Current will give you an excellent summary of much of the work of the General Conference.
2. You should know that you elected and sent forth to Tampa an excellent IGRC delegation. They worked hard, engaged fully, listened deeply and spoke with integrity. They were warm and friendly, kind and generous. They were the leaders you would hope for and we all can be grateful for their service. They represent the quality of leadership that is abundant throughout the Illinois Great Rivers Conference. The time in Tampa was seasoned helpfully by other IGRC saints who came as pages, marshals, observers, monitors etc.
3. The availability and use of digital technology is a game changer. The accessibility that it provides allows conferencing in awesome new ways and has the potential to draw more people into conversation. Please note that I say potential. True dialogue and conversation begins with will not means. But the means at our disposal can be a huge help.
4. There have been a few headline issues that have dominated the conversation about GC 2012. These headlines started way ahead of the start of the GC, continued throughout it and continue are. They point out important issues. But lots of decisions were made that never got a headline. We should all do the work of knowing the full platter of decisions that were made by the delegates. Sooner or later, headline producing or not they will all matter.
Going forward Christian conferencing in the Wesleyan way still holds great promise for helping our church to make key directional decisions, affirming our mission, doctrine and polity. But to maximize its potential we will need clarity of mission, high trust, capacity for true dialogue and fresh commitment to be freed from our silos and narrow vision. I look forward to continuing to walk this road with you.
Yours in Christ,
Gregory V. Palmer