I'm committee hopping this evening.
Mark asked me to sit in on Discipleship to see what's going on with the hymnal. The sub-committee has passed the resolution that deals with creating a hymnal to be submitted for approval at the 2012 GC. (remember, it still has to pass through the whole committee, and then through the whole conference, but it's on its way!) There was a good consensus from the group on this. They had obviously been talking about it, and the chair had created a document to kind of bring together the thoughts regarding a new hymnal. There will be one for the church, and they acknowledge that it will be primarily used in the US, but that it can be "a prologue to additional future work for other regions of the world-wide United Methodist Church."
After than I mozeyed my way over to the sub-committee dealing with human sexuality. They were working on a petition to adopt language about homosexuality that says we are conflicted, and have yet to receive movement from the holy spirit as to where we should stand on this issue, but in the conflict, we as a church urge the UMC and other churches to not pass judgement on anyone because of their sexuality.
I'm afraid it won't pass the entire body because of that last part...though I have to say, didn't God say something about do not judge, lest you be judged?
After that, I traveled on and sat in on Higher Ed talking about deacons' sacramental rights. Pretty good discussion. I kind of came in in the middle, so I'm not clear what they were specifically talking about, but basically I think they were discussing granting deacons the ability to proceed over the sacraments under the oversight of the bishop, and mainly focused in areas outside the local church, in an effort to bring the sacraments to places they would not have previously gone. Some of the response to that was that we have enough issue helping the lay of our congregations understand why the liscensed local pastor with (often but not always) limited education and training has sacramental rights, and the deacon with an M.Div. doesn't. Point being, it would further confuse people if only some deacons have sacramental rights (those serving "in the world" and others don't (those serving in a local congregation).
The issue with granting blanket ability to the sacraments to deacons is the understanding of the order of deacon as we now know it - that deacons are ordained to service and word, not sacraments.
This is an issue I have thought some about, but still don't really know where I stand. On the one hand, I can see how a distinction between the order of deacon and order of elder can and is a good thing. But at the same time, I really don't think it's right that liscensed local pastors have sacramental rights while deacons don't. I think the sub-committee decided to send that to a sub-sub-committee for more discussion on the wording they want to present. It'll be interesting to see where it comes out. I think it will be granted within the oversight of the bishop, ds, or elder.
Alright, I'm headed home for the evening, I hope! I'll be back on tomorrow. Thanks for reading!