I've received our pre-Conference Journal, and have only looked through it briefly. A few things (seven) have hit me right away.
First, I am shocked that Steve Cordle, pastor of Crossroads Church, was not nominated by the Washington District. He has had tremendous ministry success in the last decade or so, and Crossroads has surely become one of our most vital congregations. In fact, he may be the most effective pastor in our Conference right now. It seems to me that Church growth and professions of faith ought to count for something, even as I recognize that other factors should be a part of the decision-making process. This may be completely inappropriate, but his assigned number is 223, and I intend to vote for him.
Actually, given that as a partial voting guide, several other pastors ought to be seriously considered. David Eversdyke...Eric Park...Rodney Smith...Bob Zilhaver...each of these seem to have been very effective leaders in terms of ministry growth in the past several years...there are surely others...these are just kind of "off the cuff". Any other names that stand out in this regard - not necessarily as candidates for election, but for church growth?
Second, let's face it: while there are many pressing issues facing the Church, sex is going to be a major factor, both in June at Grove City and next spring in Texas. This is too bad, because issues such as mission, poverty, and war ought to be at the forefront, but will be brushed aside by "the elephant in the room". Sex is an important issue, to be sure, but shouldn't be #1 on the list.
With that realization, I glanced (albeit briefly) at the information provided by the nominees. I am a little disheartened that so few mention the issue of sex. There are "code words" used by both sides. "Scriptural authority" and "personal holiness" are used by many on "the Right", despite the fact that most folks on "the Left" would strongly affirm those phrases. "Welcoming all" is a phrase used by "the Left", despite the fact that most folks on "the Right" would strongly affirm that as well.
The reason I am disheartened that few mention the issue is that, again, while sex isn't the main issue confronting the Church, it's a big issue right now, important to many United Methodists, and I think it's a little disingenuous to dance around it. Say what you feel, support it, and move on. I hate all of this "cloak and dagger" stuff (do I sound too cynical?).
Third, RS 804, proposed by Greg Cox and Michelle Wobrak (et al), seems to be a good start at expanding the voices around the Conference Council table, but I'm a mite perplexed. We are giving spots on the Council to Pensions, Trustees, and Equitable Compensation, which isn't necessarily bad. What about New Church Starts? Is that the "Congregational Development" representative? If not, could we add a rep. from the New Church Starts group, to further emphasize the importance of this ministry?
Fourth, I like RS 602, which could and should promote more effective ministry to "the least of these", something many of our congregations aren't doing very well.
Fifth, do we really need five General Evangelists?
Sixth, P 71 and P 72...I know they basically had to put forth these pieces, but do they really stand a chance of passing in June? I'd be surprised if either made it out of legislative section 7.
Seventh, P 22...this is the only really new or unusual piece that I have found. My guess is it will be ruled out of order somehow. While I don't really like the protests during worship, and agree with the spirit of the legislation, I'm not sure this kind of thing can (or should) be legislated. Additionally, what would be the consequence of violating this Rule, were it to pass?
Just some quick thoughts for those in Western PA Conference.