By Bob Phillips
"War is an organized bore." So wrote Captain Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., thrice wounded in the Union Army in the Civil War and later a legendary member of the Supreme Court. Although he would be called "The Great Dissenter" on the court, there was little dissent by combat veterans of his impressions of combat. Or, as another described combat, "Vast periods of boredom interrupted by moments of sheer terror."
General Conference is not combat, and there was no terror at all in evidence today. Here and there one found a hiccup promising some future excitement, especially in the maneuvering that surrounds Rule 44, a effort to modify the process of discussion and decision related to the issues of human sexuality. That rule was not discussed in depth today...perhaps tomorrow. Is it an honest effort to cut the confusion driven by 850 people who currently have equal access and say over such issues? Is it an effort to ease those who affirm the existing teaching of the church into marginalized and powerless roles so that minority agendas can bypass serious majority objection? Stay tuned, O ye of little faith!
The boredom, a word somewhat unfair in this setting, arose from completing the nitty gritty of preparation; the election of team leaders and sub-team leaders, the introductions shared among the various delegates on the sundry teams. I sit with Higher Education and Ministry and will look at the largest number of petitions fielded b y any group, related to clergy and education issues. At my table of 11 were folks from Congo who only spoke French (merci beaucoup, madam translator), one who spoke only Swahili, one from Atlanta, two from Washington DC, and seated next to me a reasonably effective church planter from Leawood, Kansas. We traded stories and hopes for the global church and, thus prepared, await tomorrow.