Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. The laity election has concluded, and all but one of the conservative “Vision Team” managed to get elected (I have to imagine the one guy who didn’t make it feels pretty bad). After the 12th ballot I asked my supporters to direct their support elsewhere, in an effort to focus the votes on one or two particular progressive candidates that I thought might have a shot at getting at least an alternate delegate slot (this wasn’t an original idea of mine, in case you’re wondering). Unfortunately, that didn’t help matters quite enough, although it was kind of encouraging to still receive 30+ votes even after I asked my voters to go elsewhere. Either that, or the people voting for me were just hard of hearing…
The clergy delegation continues to struggle with their choices, although they at least have moved on to the Jurisdictional votes. I can’t really comment on the makeup of their delegation, because I don’t know enough of the clergy who are on it so far. I’ll check in with Rex and have him give me some feedback – or maybe he should just make a guest appearance on my blog?
This morning’s opening music was big fun, though – Latin/Hispanic songs, done all the way through in Spanish, and then repeated in English. They were very up-tempo, with good work on the congas. I skipped out on the laity service – the speaker was some assistant athletic director at UGA, and I figured there would be one too many metaphors comparing the Kingdom of God and spiritual battles to gridiron contests. The “praise band” music that I did hear was not exactly overwhelming. There’s only so many ways you can make a couple of guitars, keyboard and drum kit play verse chorus, verse chorus, bridge, repeat chorus to BIG FINISH!
Good news – the day began (for some of us) at the annual MFSA (Methodist Federation for Social Action) breakfast. As I noted yesterday, this year’s speaker was Katy Hinman of Georgia Interfaith Power & Light. It was good to hear her, and to be with a group of folks who didn’t need convincing about prioritizing environmental stewardship.
Other good news – after much debate, attempts at unfriendly amendments, and opposing speeches, we still managed to pass a good resolution on comprehensive immigration reform, calling for a path to citizenship, protection for workers, and the reuniting of families, along with reasonable security measures. I tend to think the opponents of that resolution actually shot themselves in the foot, as the opposing speakers came off sounding stubbornly nativist. The vote was 703 in favor to 372 opposed.
One other thing I’ve been struck by this week is the number of good women clergy who seem to be leaving the ordained ministry. One that I already knew about has shifted to the UCC, and two others are leaving associate church positions this year to spend time discerning where their call should lead them. I think it’s incredibly unfortunate, to say nothing of shortsighted, that these clergywomen are not receiving more support and encouragement from the denomination, and that conditions are such that they’re leaving in increasing numbers.
Well, that’s all for now from Athens. We’ll vote on the budget tomorrow, and watch the clergy continue to vote for their delegation – it’s entirely possible that I’ll get out of here way before Rex does, so be nice to him when you see him on Sunday.