Thursday, June 14, 2007

Other Annual Conference reflections...

I think that...

...the fact that the budget passed with no discussion and no controversy is a testament to the diligent faithfulness of the team that put it together, especially Howard Burrell, Larry Homitsky, Pat Morris, and Bob Zilhaver...

...Luella Krieger and Brad Lauster are doing great work, and it was good to see that validated with the Denman Awards...

....there were lots of "Believe Again!" reports at Annual Conference, but not a lot of action; I hope we see this tree bear some fruit soon...

...having a cross on the altar in addition to a larger cross elsewhere in the chancel area is redundant imagery, and only accentuates that the cross on the table is, relative to the room, tiny. It also obscures the Bishop while he's handling the bread and the cup while leading the Eucharistic Great Thanksgiving. Traditional worship done well can be a wonderful thing, but that seemed a mite sloppy to me. Next year, I hope we can focus on one cross somewhere in the chancel area and eliminate the smaller one on the table itself...

...going bald doesn't bother me at all, as it's simply one less thing to worry about, and I've already done the long-haired hippie bit; I'm rarely envious of someone's follicular gifts, but, I tell you, our friend Thomas Q. Strandburg has one fine head of hair, thick and red like a good Celt...

...it was disheartening that the Conference rejected the opportunity to call for peace in Iraq while offering the military chaplains a standing ovation (though all three are good guys); the Bishop was right...we have plenty of work to do...

...Alyce Weaver Dunn, Eric Park, Thomas Q. Strandburg, and Bob Zilhaver would all make excellent candidates for the superintendency in the coming years, though they may not enjoy that...

...Randy Roda was largely responsible for the involvement of Renaye and Rich Hoffman in the life of the Church; the fact that one is now our Conference Youth Director and the other is a General Conference delegate is a real affirmation of Randy's ministry; that's some pretty public fruit, as both are having a significant impact on our Conference and in the life of the General Church...

...I noticed that the most quoted theologians at Annual Conference this year - primarily by Bishop Bickerton and Vance Ross - were Martin Luther King, John Ed Mathison, and Howard Thurman. Being a fan of all three, that was nice to hear; maybe next year, we'll hear some Hauerwas...

...I was happy when Dennis Lawton was transferred into our Conference, and even happier to see Jim Kimmel ordained an Elder, as Jim and I both hail from Indiana: Trinity UMC, having entered pastoral ministry (along with fine local pastor Bob Nagy) largely due to the faithful ministry of Deryl Larsen...

...we need to really prioritize in the next few years in terms of reaching out to the African-American population in western Pennsylvania; we are failing these people...

...we also need to focus on creating a culture in which our women clergy can see their leadership opportunities strengthened; 2 on our GC delegation and only 1 more on our JC delegation is a theological travesty...

...Larry Homitsky, Eric Park, and Bob Zilhaver all need to be taken seriously as Episcopal candidates next year; we should be praying for all three...

...the Bishop's "I am not anonymous" speech has gotten mixed reviews, but I really appreciated what he said near the end: "I love you. I love you when I like you, and when I don’t like you. I love you when I agree with you and when I don’t. I love you when you lift me up and when you make me hurt. This is at the center of my theology.” Good stuff. Add a Trinitarian spin, and you've got as solid a theological center as any in Christendom.

8 comments:

Jackie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jackie said...

sorry -- don't know how to edit
Keith,
i didn't see you at ac2007 (mainly because i wouldn't have known who to look for beyond the photo shown) but i can be counted as those who find your blog insightful.

Roda Zone said...

Everything you said...except for the stuff about Roda...is wrong. I didn't notice the cross on the altar, supported the defeat of the Iraq war opposition legislation, think I should be added to the episcopal nominee list, thought the bishop's anonymous speech was divisive, and the budget passed because no one is going to take the time to read through the thing.

I'm definitely entitling my Jefferson UMC sermon "Everything you've heard is wrong!" Don't worry...I'll make sure there is no insurrection!

Brenda said...

It was great meeting you in person @ conference. Hope to get to meet your better half someday. Have a great time on vacation. We enjoyed ours this past week.

Corben said...

Let's see... where to begin. I am excited to see someone, anyone, alive, paying attention at conference, and interested in the more obscure, but important details of this years conference. The crosses only took my focus away once and logistically there may not have been any other way. The intention seemed appropriate.

As for the anonymous speech, I knew right away it was an opportunity to use the bishing power, as Bishop Tom has referred to it, to share his view on the anonymity without starting controversy and letting himself be heard. Was it appropriate, I liked what the Bishop said at the end and better yet, I loved it when Rev. Ross told everyone to be anonymous since he did not seem to be aware of the insight politics that the bishop was referring to when Rev Ross announced we all should be anonymous. It seemed both ironic and appropriate as it seemed to lessen the tension.

I have a few more years before I am even able to vote so the elections where a tempting time to duck out, snooze, or start a conversation that I know I should not just out of proper manners.

The debates on the Iraq War legislation was never seemed to come back to Scripture as a guide for discernment and this was a little disheartening.

I was impressed with how the budget passed and felt like it was not even real. I mean it seemed like no one cared, no one was willing to challenge that in the chance of reprisal, or else everyone called conference ahead of time to find out what all those allocations meant.

I know I was wondering what positions the salaries of believe again were going to, since the allocation was for over $200,000, even though this really is a small amount of money when considering it is conference wide.

The one part that seemed shady, pre-planned and or just a little suspect was when that amount of somewhere near 17,000 came up, right away it was motioned, seconded, and voted to go to the special pension fund thing, forgive me for not remembering where it actually went, but the fishy part was not that it went through the motion, seconding, and voting extremely fast even though it did, but that a video was prepared and cued to play as soon as it rapidly passed to explain what it was for.

I felt, out of integrity, it would seem that one would present the video first, but maybe that is just a protocol issue. I would want to be informed of what I was voting on before not after.

I am in no way saying this was illegal or wrong and would have voted for it if I had a vote, but rather it felt like being on the opposing basketball team who had a person under the hoop and a full court pass enabled a slam dunk that ended a tie game, up to that point, enabling a win.

Maybe I am crazy, but maybe we could have gotten even more support and taken up an offering, for such a need as this, if we had played the video first.

Keith McIlwain said...

I hear your concern about that gift. If I remember correctly, that "extra money" was given to the Central Conference Pension fund.

A few years ago, our Conference helped establish a pension fund for pastors in our Central (outside USA, largely third world & poor) Conferences. The pastors have little or nothing, as that video showed.

I think the problem was that much of us understood the context, but Conference rookies probably did not. Maybe next year we need to explain that more completely. It's a good cause, though, and nothing to worry about. It is, in my opinion, one of the better things we do as an Annual Conference.

Eric R. said...

About the need to explain the Central Conference Pension Fund...My lay member told me that for the first few years she went to AC, she wondered why we had to help out the pastors from Altoona---she actually thought we were donating to the Central PA conference! Maybe some explanation beforehand would be helpful.

Corben said...

I agree the central pension fund is an excellent cause. I just hope that conference is planned and thought out as if everyone was new so that when new equalization members, pastors, or lay delegates are not left feeling displaced, unwanted, confused, or excluded.