The following is a blog entry by communications team member Stephanie Foretich, MDiv student, Candler School of Theology.
This morning, the current president as well as the future president of the Council of Bishops spoke to the seminarians. The current, Larry Goodpaster, spoke about how it can be challenging to think of the world-wide Church if you are a pastor of a local church. He encouraged each pastor to focus on his or her own local community and congregation. If each community sought to help and be effective in its own community, we can make world-wide change.
This speaks directly to the particular and universal about which Howard Thurman writes throughout his work. This is a hopeful perspective in respect to our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ to transform the world.
PBS arrived in the Church and Society Committee this morning. The director is creating a documentary following three delegates from the same Conference (California/Pacific). There were motions raised to vote on whether to film or not to film — that is the question. :) The concern was that the dynamic of Holy Conferencing would change in the committees. The delegates want to keep safe space in the committees to allow the love of Christ to be openly shared. The secretary of the General Conference came to clarify the rules regarding such taping. According to the rules, the camera crew was allowed to continue filming because these sessions are supposed to be open. The director, however, was willing to be respectful if someone wished for a statement to go off the record. The request to speak "off the record" was not made by any of the delegates today.
I think it is exciting and inspiring that people outside of The United Methodist Church are following our legislation. There are very important and divisive issues that are being discussed in these meetings. The world is truly watching our process as the presence of the Holy Spirit is in our midst. Prayer is happening in between votes and the world will be able to see just that. I think that in many ways these difficult topics that are so divisive — especially in the United States — are being discussed in the Church. I have to say that I LOVE that our polity makes people in the Church talk about real issues with which we disagree. We do not wish to separate our Church. Our polity encourages us to wrestle with each others' opinions. It is a beautiful thing that building relationships, listening to one another, and allowing everyone's voice to be heard is inherent in our polity. Thank you John Wesley!
Stephanie Foretich is a third-year MDiv student at Candler School of Theology and is looking forward to graduating this May. She is a member of St. Mark's UMC in Brandon, MS and is a commissioned provisional elder in the Mississippi Conference. She has a Masters of Arts degree in teaching from Belhaven College. Last summer she worked for A Christian Ministry in the National Parks on the Blue Ridge Parkway. After graduation, she will be interning for St. Luke's Training and Counseling Center with the homeless population in Atlanta, GA. One day, she hopes to be a chaplain and spiritual director.