Soaking It All In
Day One and I’m already pooped!
Our flight was fine...you know, I get more stressed out about getting to the flight than the actual flight itself. I know some people have a fear of flying. The flying’s the easy part for me. It’s the security, being on time, and praying they don’t lose my luggage that stresses me out! But, everything worked out well, and if I start going into details from 8am this morning, we’ll be here all night, and as it’s 12:30am (Wednesday morning, actually), that should give you some indication that this will be long enough!
Flight, good. Hotel, well....our room’s wonderful, now that we’re actually here. They’re doing construction on the hotel. I’m beginning to think Texas does construction on their buildings like Tennessee does construction on their roads—constantly. The lobby is a mess, and the second floor where Mark’s office is set up is pretty much a mess, too. But the room is nice. It’s a Sheraton, it better be nice! (And even nicer that I don’t have to pay for it! Yea Mark traveling for work!)
It did take us, well, until about an hour ago to actually get into our room. We arrived at the hotel right about noon, maybe 11:30, and the room wasn’t ready yet. We bummed around for about 2 hours, Mark worked on setting up the office, I read some pamphlets that were supposed to tell us where we were and where we could get food (they didn’t), and by about 1:30, the room still wasn’t ready, so we left our luggage behind the counter and headed to the Convention Center.
First order of business, after acquiring food, of course, was to head to the Young Person’s Orientation. This was good - saw several people I was hoping to see here! Also ran into several of Mark’s co-workers, so he got to catch up with them. All good. The orientation was pretty standard, here’s how committees work, things move fast, make your voice be heard, etc. They did introduce the 6 young people who will be giving the first ever Young Person’s Address to General Conference (tomorrow morning (actually, today...ugh) - 11:35am - you can stream it at www.gc2008.umc.org) and you can also check out the blog of one of the speakers at www.generalconference08.blogspot.com.) At the YP orientation they also got people together who were on the same legislative committees so they could talk and know a friendly face when they actually get into the committees tomorrow.
We met a couple of friends for dinner and talked about the recent ongoings in the TN Conference. Then back to the Convention Center for opening worship and the first session.
Worship was really good. I had a hard time deciding whether I really wanted to be behind the scenes creating and supporting the beauty, or if I wanted to be out there leading it. Still haven’t made up my mind, but I do know I don’t want to be in section 308! I definitely need to be more involved. I’m sure that comes as no surprise to anyone who knows me.
After worship, they did a session, which was the first time they’ve evidently done a session after opening worship - they usually wait until the next day. All in effort to get everyone out of here sooner and shorten our time here. It certainly made for a long meeting tonight!
On the agenda was setting of the bar, adopting the rules, report of the General Conference Committee and a couple of other things. It was interesting to see the work of the body begin. Some issues have already come up, though we’ll have to see how they pan out in the committees before we really know anything. Some that came up:
20 Under 30: requiring that GC and the General Board and Agencies have 20% of their representation under the age of 30.
Removal of petition: question was raised as to whether or not someone can withdraw a petition after submitting it but before General Conference (came up because GB of Church and Society withdrew its petition about divesting from Caterpillar)
Reducing GC to 500-600 delegates, as opposed to 900-100
Constitutionality of petitions - this came up, someone referred the petitions regarding 20 under 30 and other minority representation on boards and agencies to the Judicial Council to review their constitutionality
After we set the rules (amazing work...they adopted all 40 rules in one fell swoop!) they did some presentations, the main one on “Sensitivity Training.” I have to say, it was pretty good. They used clips from The Office - hilarious! They took the ones from the inclusiveness training that they did, where the guy talks about being a “HERO”, and Dwight goes on about how to be a hero you actually need to have a super power and have had something tragic happen to you in childhood that needs to be avenged (opened with that one). They took the one where Michael tells Pam she needs to be the cheerleader for their basketball game (used that to talk about women and equality), and they used another clip for inclusiveness in race. It was good...they didn’t talk about age inclusiveness, which was interesting. Though, let me plug in here that the young people were on their toes tonight - they caught several things that needed to be corrected and made some good points. Also voted emphatically for only audible cell phone use to be banned from the floor (texting is in! not that I have it...) The information they shared about inclusiveness of non-English speaking people was very good, though. They were real about it, honest, even in the filmed presentation they had prepared.
Alright, seeing at it’s now 1:00am, and our bus leaves at 7:15 am, I’m going to bed! They young person’s lounge has free internet, I believe, so hopefully I can give updates throughout the day tomorrow instead of waiting until evening. I also am at least planning on taking out my computer and taking notes during the sessions, because there are so many things I wanted to talk about that my tired brain has simply forgotten about. Each day, I’ll just get better and better at this! If you’re reading this, thanks!