Delegates and advocates and plenaries and committees and sidebar dialogues interweave in the tapestry that is General Conference.
It is instructive to pause after decisions and to pull the thread in the tapestry — to learn from the sense of the meeting and to discover what is present in our midst.
The movement to missional appointment-making — and away from guaranteed appointment — was approved on the consent calendar this morning. A motion to bring it to plenary discussion failed as the plenary in effect agreed with the legislative committee.
There are various threads in the tapestry of this decision. Laity speaking to the matter stressed the reality of accountability in professional lives beyond that of clergy. Clergy expressed desire to be prophetic and fruitful servant leaders. The ministry study committee convened by the 2008 General Conference recommended this action. The Council of Bishops supported the move to missional appointment-making urged by the legislative committee.
The pattern of this tapestry could be described as the dream of a missional church in which clergy are called, prepared, strengthened and sent as servant leaders. Clergy mark our call as the moment in which we heard God call us to give ourselves away in order that the church of Jesus Christ might thrive and grow.
It was observed this morning that our public mission is "to make disciples of all people for the transformation of the world." In some ways, our private mission has been the maintenance of the church and the support of clergy.
In the Mississippi Conference, we acknowledge a tapestry of opinion on this matter. As we pull the threads, may we acknowledge the beauty of our unity amid our differences. As we admire the tapestry of our life together, may we celebrate the grand promise of fruitful ministry in every place.
Clergy leaders are a gift of God to the church. Let us love and encourage one another in the servant ministry to which we are called.
With gratitude for our life together in Christ,
Hope Morgan Ward