Reporting in from Ft. Worth. The periscope is emerging briefly before sinking back down under conference waters.
Two examples of why church politics matter: (I know, I know, some of you want to worship God without politics - and yet, the church exists on earth as an imperfect body susceptible to flaws and weaknesses just like anything else).
Becqui Blanco. She's a cool 20-something who teaches second graders. She and a friend noticed a gaping hole in curriculum: discipleship materials for young women - junior highers, teenagers, college freshmen. So they started Bible studies, and this led to some small conferences popping up across southern Texas. Young girls hearing about how to be a woman, with topics like eating disorders addressed in a way that acknowledges a woman as a whole being - something vital to young girls still forming their identities.
But then the Women's Division found out. They accused Becqui of being a puppet of renewal groups. "As if we couldn't have thought of this ourselves," she noted wryly. Because "Women of Valor, Rise Up" is not distributed top down, but rather sprung up from the grassroots level to meet a need. The Women's Division wanted them to use "approved" curriculum - as if they're a polygamous sect instead of women encouraging young girls to develop identities wrapped around Christ. "These girls don't care about mercury poisoning. That's the kind of thing their curriculum covers," Becqui lamented.
And then there's the cell phones. Who at General Conference arrives for two weeks without a cell phone? Many international delegates, that's who. Either they come from countries where cell phone usage isn't prevalent among the general population, or they arrive exhausted after three days of travel with little energy to track down a prepaid phone.
So a bunch of groups got together to provide cell phones, so that people like Mwenze could keep in contact with other delegates, with friends in the U.S., and with family, while he's here for two weeks.
And then this story was published: http://www.umc.org/site/ap
And then this one:
So now it's racist to make sure the international delegates have cell phones just like everybody else? And what, African or Asian delegates can have their votes bought with a measly phone? Yeah, cause it's not racist to suggest that.
American delegates wouldn't dream of going to a conference for two weeks without their cell phones.
Something about blatant inconsistency annoys me.
Maybe I'll just put these chronic complainers' staplers in Jell-O. Or throw their cell phones in the ceiling.
So plenary sessions begin today - that means a full house is meeting now that legislative committees has sifted through all the petitions and resolutions.
And I had a smoothie for breakfast. It was strawberry banana, but I think I'll now call strawberry banana smoothies plenary smoothies. Plenary sounds like a fruit, right?
The Big Stuff today is, of course, moving to plenary sessions, but also Judicial Council elections this morning. The Judicial Council is the Supreme Court of the United Methodist Church, and they've been becoming more and more prominent the last few years as they've had to deal with challenges to Conference decisions.
Our work room looks like the workspace of a presidential candidate. Cords, coffee cups, highlighted paper, flash drives, bananas and mini candy bars, cardboard boxes, multiple printers all running out of ink and toner at the same time, and giant post-its on a wall that we haven't used since last Wednesday because the roller coaster hasn't stopped since. Technically, the work room is for Good News work, but a lot of Renewal/Reform Coalition people are in and out, which basically makes it Times Square. Times Square with people needing you to print things from your laptop frequently.
So, there've been a lot of lunches lately. Today's is the Lifewatch lunch - the lady speaking is really cool. Carol Everett used to run several Dallas abortion clinics, but somehow switched positions and now speaks and works on behalf of life.
Tomorrow, my new roommate (the final of three) will speak on persecution and human rights issues of Christians around the world. Faith McDonnell works on behalf of human rights for the Institute on Religion and Democracy.
Well, the air conditioning is on again and freezing me into the Arctic, so I'm off to grab a jacket and walk over to the Convention Center to see what's happenin'.
"Former Abortion Clinic Owner Share Story with Delegates"