Ask a Delegate | Part 3

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What have been your efforts to make UMC members in the Northwest Texas Annual Conference aware of the differences in the plans being voted on?

In addition, to the “Listening Sessions,” the official report in Conference Communications, the Annual Conference report, several of us have spoken to different churches about the upcoming “Called Session” and remain willing to do so.

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What are some scripture passages that you have been reflecting on as you prepare to participate in General Conference 2019?

I’ve been doing a daily Bible reading plan for a number of months that includes Chapters from the New Testament and Psalms. I also attend a weekly men’s Bible study and an adult Sunday School class and both have been helpful. My Sunday school class has been particularly helpful in praying for me and sharing scripture from their private studies. The ‘red letter’ portions of Luke and Matthew have been particularly helpful.

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How will the outside advocacy groups (WCA, Uniting Methodists, UMARC) affect the actions and decisions during the proceedings of the 2019 General Conference?

I imagine they will behave very much like advocacy groups have behaved at previous General Conferences.They will have meetings, advocate for their positions, some will protest, they will send email notices, etc . . .These advocacy groups tend to have more of an impact prior to the General Conference as they lobby/advocate for their perspective. Only the delegates have a vote, and only the delegates will make the ultimate decisions.All the advocacy groups have been far more active prior to this special session of the General Conference than I’ve seen in my previous two conferences; however, it’s yet to be seen how much influence these groups will actually have.

How has preparing for this General Conference been different than the previous General Conference in 2016?

In some ways it’s been easier; there’s far less material to read. But in most ways it’s been more difficult. I receive far more communication related to this General Conference than previous ones, and it’s not even close. People are highly anxious. People have incredibly strong feelings and opinions about this topic.

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How has preparing for this General Conference been different than the previous General Conference in 2016?

Leading up to the Called Session, we have had a long time to think about the three proposed plans, read the Judicial Council's rulings about them, and hear others' thoughts. In a sense, I feel prepared for this, because I have already attended a General Conference and am very familiar with the petitions. Comparatively, I felt fairly rushed to read all of the materials, over 1400 pages, for General Conference 2016 and I had no idea what to expect as a first time attendee.

I was working for NWTX during General Conference 2016 in order to capture photos, stories, and news.That meant I had to wear two hats the entire time, first reserve delegate and staff member, which was very difficult and also very fun.There was a lot of running to the right place to get a good photo, interviewing fun people I met there, and eating yummy food with Burt Palmer (seriously, go to Prime Rib & Chocolate Cake). Additionally, Angie Brokaw joined us as an intern that summer and her first week on the job was at General Conference, which meant I was training a new employee on site. I enjoyed General Conference 2016. We slept very little, there were a thousand things to do every day for communications, and I was watching a new employee thrive in a very dynamic environment. I will always say it was the most fun I have ever had with a giant group of Methodists.

This conference doesn't feel like it will be fun.There is a weight in the air that is palpable. It feels like no matter how I vote, ultimately, I will be destroying the very church that taught me the Good News of God's grace. I owe a lot to The United Methodist Church. God used it to teach me truth. God used it to undo the effects of harmful teachings about women. God has used this church in so many beautiful ways in my life, so as I prepare for this General Conference, I feel a great sense of sadness.

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What role do the bishops play in this General Conference?

The bishops have made recommendations concerning the plans that have been presented by the Commission on the Way Forward. The bishops will preside over the sessions at the General Conference. However, the bishops will not vote on the legislation. That is the job of the delegates.

What have been your efforts to make UMC members in the Northwest Texas Annual Conference aware of the differences in the plans being voted on?

I personally have been reluctant to give too much detail to NWTX laity regarding the proposed plans being voted on. One aspect of General Conferencing that seems consistent is that the plan the General Conference ends up voting on will likely look nothing like what is being proposed now. Rather, I have encouraged all NWTX laity to be in prayer for the Church, for the delegates, for the local church and for the Kingdom as we journey through this process.