Those who know me well will hopefully be able to tell you that I seldom get angry. For whenever I am confronted by rude or selfish behavior I try to check my reaction by simply stopping to remember that I have no idea what may have happened in the other person’s life to make them act so inappropriately.
Today, however, I actually got a bit ticked. For though I have grown accustomed over the past twenty-eight years to the peculiar dysfunction that United Methodist General Conferences often fall into, today seemed to be a particularly potent illustration of Methodists Behaving Badly.
Don’t get me wrong. In general, I like our bishops. Even thought of being one myself once, though apparently no one else was thinking along the same lines. But the recommendation that came from our College of Bishops today to defer dealing with any of the sexuality issues before us as a denomination seemed not only disingenuous but downright duplicitous and even destructive in its implications.
To be sure, the move not to move ahead was at least done in the open this year, as opposed to four years ago when a backdoor deal was struck with a few that essentially killed all resolutions still in the queue, including the one I was sitting on the platform ready to present next.
But the recommendation also means that for the second time in two conferences we will have effectively set aside and silenced the voices of numerous individuals who in good faith researched and wrote their petitions, argued them before their church or conference to get them approved, and then dutifully sent them in according to the timetable and instructions provided, only to see them tossed away without so much as the courtesy of a vote, or in some cases, even a hearing before a subcommittee.
Full disclosure compels me to say that I am one of those individuals, for I and others produced a resolution that represents a genuine compromise between progressives and conservatives meant to bring a little breathing space into our seemingly unending sexuality struggles. But I think as well of the Connectional Table, our highest council of leaders from across the church who spent several years, tens of thousands of dollars, conducted hearings around the world and crafted a proposal that now will never even be presented. (It makes you wonder what the point of another study commission is going to be, thus, if their work too can be so easily ignored.)
And I haven’t even mentioned the horrendous ad hominem attacks on the presiding officer which took place, or the fact that when the first proposal to adopt this plan from the bishops was voted down, a second and virtually identical one was allowed to be presented, an action that should have immediately been ruled out of order.
I’ll get over it, of course. I always do. But today I will freely admit that I’m more than just a little peeved. For I can’t get past the sneaky feeling that once again, we’ve been manipulated by those whose agenda may not reflect that of the majority of either our delegates or the church. Even those from across the globe noticed that there was something wrong and emailed their astonishment, much to my embarrassment as a delegate.
Vote me up or vote me down, thus, and I’ll accept it as it is. But don’t try to maneuver me out of a vote or deny others the right to even express an opinion on a vital issue confronting the church. For God may indeed want to say something to us from them and I’d hate for us to miss it.