Experiencing holy conferencing at its best

May 12, 2016

Submitted by the Rev. Brad Laurvick
Clergy Delegate for Rocky Mountain Conference

Let me tell you about the hope and happiness I found today. Today I participated in the best holy conferencing and discernment I have been a part of in 20 years of Methodist Conferences.

The news reports will certainly mention the defeat of Rule 44, and the slow start to our work, information that though practical is not inspiring (Quite the opposite, actually). There were also places of great pain; sub-committee meetings that led to biter tears and dashed hopes. Amidst it all, I was blessed by the presence of the Holy Spirit channeled through the means of grace that is seeking the will of God – conferencing at its best.

The 17 of us gathered in our sub-committee anxious to begin something different than the circuitous debate of the morning. With 36 of our committee's 127 petitions before us, and only a brief count of hours to work on them, we pulled our chairs into a circle.

The parliamentary procedures served as a gentle trail as we explored conversations of family, divorce, same gender relationships, racism, and homelessness. These were the "easy topics" amidst the legislation to come. We discussed the global nature of oppression and racial hierarchy, the need to protect those marginalized by their identity, and the blessing of same gendered parents. The group was not in agreement on these issues, there was not a convergence of one mind, but there was a convergence of one accord, a shared heart for God's call to be in conversation.

Out of an agreed commitment to honor confidentiality, I do not want to get into specifics that would betray those who shared. I will say that people were open and honest in ways that pushed one another. We did not avoid disagreement to find comfort; instead participants approached differences with grace by naming the basis and motivations of their beliefs and respectfully honoring those of others.

I watched delegates who would never support the petition itself reach a unanimous vote on an amendment, because it spoke a truth that needed to be affirmed. I watched vulnerability protected by those who could have taken advantage of it. I watched God at work in the way I pray every conversation here can be shaped.

What we took part in was a moment. The results will not be long lasting, as our recommendations can be dismantled with a single motion in full committee. What cannot be amended is the movement of the Spirit we shared together, inching our way toward perfection, hopefully pulling our denomination along with us.