By Bob Phillips
Another reasonably mellow day at GC. I attended a breakfast sponsored by the Good News folks (traditional-conservative outlook). This was my first such event, although they have held several breakfasts, and other groups with differing agendas also have been holding events, though without any free food I can find...don't they understand we are talking about preachers away from home? "Feed me!" The hour mostly was given to a devotional time with no politics, and some snapshot updates on their sense of the conference. Although they are encouraged by some aspects of the GC, there was no 'spiking the ball,' or snickering or name calling or any of the other stereotyped images that so many in social media use to describe the conservatives, and the liberals.
Most of the morning again was given to worship (good) and infomercials (why, why?) We have much business that we must do and items to decide, and if not now then 4 years will pass. Send us a CD with the infomercial stuff on the church and place the priority on actually doing the work of the church. As my first (and only) GC, I am not yet acclimated to wasting time in the name of "we always do this."
Bishop Ough (as in "Oh") gave a brief talk to the conference in behalf of the bishops. It appears word was passed the previous evening of confidential discussions involving some pastors of large churches, leaders of special interest groups of left and right, and whoever else to discern alternatives if no agreement is reached on sex. The bishop made clear the role of the bishop was to decide and that it was for the members of the delegations to figure out what to do. In response, folks from left-center-right all jumped up with a request that the bishops do less presiding and more leading. So I am guessing they will be huddling tonight to ponder and pray and hopefully not prevaricate.
The gay lobby sang for the delegates as they returned for the afternoon session, singing "Blessed be the Tie that Binds" while several say on the floor with hands tied in captivity. No one was prevented from entering the hall and after a few minutes of singing the same verse again and again, they dispersed.
Again, lots of social and religious and secular media are focusing on the single issue of sex as though that is all that is happening, or the only thing that really matters. This wildly misses the point and the larger issues the conference is addressing on empowering training for clergy, making the path to leadership more rational, funneling resources to sources of life rather than dribbling them into dead end projects.
We shall see what tomorrow brings. Continue your prayers. And remember, Peoria truly is modeling an approach to issues that are conflicting others with a vision of biblical integrity and grace, with everything focused on the mission of calling others to follow Jesus. More on that later also!