Reflections from General Conference – Delegation Co-Chair Harriet Bryan

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Harriet Bryan
Debbie Byrd
Debbie Byrd of Andrew Price UMC (Nashville District) was one of the deaconesses commissioned at General Conference.

General Thoughts: There are parts of General Conference I love!  The opportunity to worship with people from across the world is a gift and a foretaste of heaven.  It is a place where heaven is on earth as we unite our hearts, minds, and spirits in worship.  The opportunity to see old friends and make new ones and to gain greater understanding of how God is working in different places warms my heart.

There are also parts of General Conference that are extremely difficult. I want it to be more efficient.  We are never able to get everything done.  It’s not because we don’t work and put in long hours; it’s because there are so much legislation that comes before us that we don’t have time to discuss it all. However, when you have thousands of petitions and hundreds of delegates and ten days, there is no way to address everything.  We do our best. The good news is that there are people who care enough to submit legislation for us to consider and that we seek to listen to and learn from one another (most of the time).

 

Celebration/highlight: The Imagine No Malaria update highlighted what we can accomplish when we unite our efforts. United Methodists have raised more than $68 million to end malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa, where one child dies from malaria every two minutes!

 

Creation of Commission:  I know that there are those who think that passing the Council of Bishop’s recommendation is simply deferring a decision and is an abdication of the responsibility  to act on the part of those of us who are in Portland for this General Conference.  And yet many of us voted for these bishops when they were candidates for the episcopacy because we believed that they were anointed by God and equipped to lead us.  This week we asked them to lead, and they took our request to heart.

Since the vote to accept their proposal prevailed, I pray that we will spend less energy bemoaning the result of this vote and criticizing the decision of the body than we will praying that the Holy Spirit will help us find a way forward as we turn to God to guide our next steps. I pray that through the leadership of our episcopacy and the creation of this Commission we are providing space for the in-breaking of the Holy Spirit who chooses to work in and through us, as imperfect and as flawed as we are.