Jeffrey N. Leath, 128th Bishop
No one wants to hold a General Conference where the life and health of people are at risk. We should be sensitive also to those who accommodate our gathering such as hotel and convention center workers. Changes to a “quadrennial” meeting entail different responsibilities than a modified mere annual session. The General Conference controls several critical functions for which there are no emergency provisions. Holding at least a partial meeting as soon as possible, including virtual participation, is of great importance for life after the pandemic.
One proposal for consideration is the convening of the General Conference to address the immediate concerns of Budget and Personnel with a recess to a later date for the deliberations on legislation and other business of the General Conference. We need to pass a budget. We need to retire persons who are scheduled to retire, as we elect persons to fill those positions. We need to assign the bishops so we can go forward in this time of uncertainty and crisis with the surety of what the leadership looks like for the near future.
It may be hard to imagine, but most of our pieces are not as complex as we are made to believe. There are three foremost components to begin the organization of our business: The Rules Committee, The Credentials Committee and The Episcopal Committee. With proper advance preparations, all these elements can be put in place with either a limited number of people meeting in person, or through virtual interaction.
Each of these three necessary groups is made up of less than 80 persons (The Episcopal Committee is the largest). We can convene; adopt rules to validate our process; and accomplish these minimum tasks of the General Conference in less that three days with live/virtual sessions of three to five hours per day (perhaps a little longer for the election).
The Program Committee can produce a virtual friendly, limited agenda. Statistics and Finance can propose a quadrennial budget, the Episcopal Committee can do its work. We may not have all the answers to the details now, but through formal and informal discussions WE can refine the concept with the end of implementing something that is fair and effective.
As I reviewed the comments on my last post (not to mention offline conversations), I learned from what others said, and I noted ideas that convinced me of the value of broader discussions. On a forum such as this, we should begin to put on the table some of the nuances which must be considered for new, better ways of doing business. Whether members are just dabbling for entertainment or engaging for progress, this is a site about the General Conference.
This site is not a prayer line. This is not the site for a virtual vigil during our critical times. There are other places for that. I thank God for those other places! When the storm is over, the ship of Zion needs to be seaworthy. Let’s use this time in drydock for assessing damage, making repairs and modifying the vessel which will take us ahead in the future and make us the tip of the spear.
None of this discussion precludes the tasks of the Council of Bishops, General Conference Commission or any other official entity of the Church.
God, forgive us of our sins! God, reform our ways! God, save the church!