We got down to business this morning with a 3 hour meeting of the Structure Committee followed by what was supposed to be a 2 hour hearing in the afternoon but it turned out to be another 2 hours of meeting instead.
I am markedly impressed with the Structure Committee. It has a number of folks who are real players in the national church, including our deputy chair, Gay Jennings, who is a contender for the next President of House of Deputies. I am just getting to know her, but am so far very favorably inclined toward her leadership.
In the morning we did the basic work of setting the ground rules for our process and had a good general conversation about how to make structure serve mission. I have been a bit perplexed by the level of discomfort with this year’s reform proposal because there is no substantive change even on the table. The proposal is just to appoint a task force to study the possibility of structural reform and make a recommendation in the future – a recommendation we might like or not, enact or not – and would probably like and enact only in part, one of these days. So why the panic? I came away from today’s discussion with a better understanding. We had at least three different committees each of whom understood structure to be in their bailiwick. Now we have a proposal to create a new ad hoc task force with the clear mandate to make something happen. Even before a specific change is recommended, several groups feel displaced from their jobs. So dealing with the relationship side of this process is delicate.
We had a room full of witnesses at the “hearing” this afternoon; but it turned out only one of them wanted to speak to one of our resolutions; and it was not a hot button resolution. Since we had the time, we took on a number of resolutions which were mostly house-keeping. Even though they were of the most minor nature, we were meticulous with the wording and so managed to devote considerable time and energy to fine tuning the canons.
What we did needed doing; but I wondered if a smaller group might not have handled it better. I also did not grow personally, make deeper connections, or feel inspired. It is not the nature of the legislative process to grow the soul. Yet, I truly believe that this was a room full of people worth knowing, that if we could come together on a deeper level, the Holy Spirit might move among us. The conventioneers who were not stuck in hearings were at a baseball game. The chance of something spiritually edifying happening is far better at a baseball game than in a legislative hearing.
Coming out of the Structure Committee “hearing,” I encountered Karen Johanns, formerly of Trinity, Reno and had a great time hearing about her gritty inner city ministry in Pontiac, MI and updating her on the movings and shakings of the Silver State.