By Bob Phillips
Ah, the first riot. Katie, bar the door. Or as Lucy sang in one of the classic Peanuts cartoon outtakes: "Fire! Famine! Flood! Doom! Defeat! Despair!" Pack it in. The end is near.
Yawn. Do we feel better? Great worship with music provided by the Africa University choir began the morning. Infomercials made up a fair part of the day, much as they do at Annual Conference, although at Annual Conference the cost is not $1,890 per minute. Some business was conducted, nothing earth-shaking. My good deed was assisting an African lady who only spoke French in ordering coffee and bagels from the a convention cafe; I didn't realize what I recalled from Junior High days. Voila!
The church's "Supreme Court," the Judicial Council, received new members, all of whom apparently from those who affirm historic Christian values and a passion to make disciples.
In the afternoon a group whooshed into the space and made an 18-minute (or roughly $25,000) demonstration protesting immigration policies, Black Lives Matter, sexuality, and climate change. More is promised later.
Sorry, efforts to 'destroy the village in order to save it' as those of us old enough to remember Vietnam, hold no appeal. Folks were polite to the protesters, who likewise were not nasty except for a couple of their leaders who modeled pique (if you are unfamiliar with the word, google it!)
It came and went and the work of the conference continued until adjournment, when many made their way to displays...and free food...celebrating United Methodist colleges, universities and seminaries. I had a delightful chat with our own Craig Hill, former associate pastor and the new Dean of the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University. And he is still 6'7" tall.
"Human anger does not work Divine righteousness," so says James 1:20. I dwell on the residual power of Pentecost(al) worship from our African brothers and sisters yesterday, and stories of courage and faith from all over the church. That is our mission. That is what matters most. That is what the denomination, and Peoria First, exist to do and are doing in many lives.