I had a conversation with some friends yesterday about our UMC conferences. There were a couple of people there who were saying they would never want to go to General or Jurisdictional conference because of all the politics, that the didn't think they could deal with it, that kind of stuff just wasn't what they'd want to do with their time, and that Annual Conference was bad enough. One person said, specifically, "there's a reason I don't go" and my response was "there's a reason I do." That prompted one of my pastors to ask me, why do you go?
Hmm...why do I go?
I'm invested in this church thing, more so than really anything else in my life, with the exception of my marriage/family. One of my strengths is Connectedness. So a connectional church is right up my alley. But I don't like the way we do things in the church right now. I think we are WAY too political, and like the culture around us, we have ceased to listen, collectively, for the voice of God. We all have our agendas - even me, as I discovered that about myself at this year's GC. But there's got to be a greater good we are all seeking.
I talked in a previous post about that experience I had, where I made the choice to stick with the church, to involve myself so deeply into it to work to change it for the better. When I attended my first Jurisdictional Conference, the way I explained it to people when I got back home was that it was a democratic convention where we prayed. And our prayers during the worship services were generally the only time we collectively asked God to be present, and sought God's guidance. We didn't pray during the business sessions. We usually didn't pray before taking a vote, unless someone from the floor asked us to, which usually only happened when things were getting heated.
And the language used! Who's going to "win" the "episcopal race"? Our "candidate" is better than theirs. Our "campaign" is going well. Our "publicity" is the best we've seen.
What about this? "We have open hearts, open minds, and are listening to the voice of God to lead us to the person God has called to this office. It may be this person who comes from our Conference, or it may be that person who comes from that other conference, but we are going to listen with faithful ears and pray for God's guidance in this process."
So...why do I do this? So that i can at least be one voice and mind who is saying that statement above. And because I truly believe God has called me to do it. God has given me a connectedness strength, which gives me a desire to understand this crazy political system we have created. God has given me an intuitive mind to see beyond the pomp and circumstance to what the process could actually be. So I go, and I serve, and I do what it is that God has called me to do at this point. And I look for those opportunities to share God's spirit in the process, to remind others why we are really there. And I learn from others who have much more experience so that I may be knowledgable. And it makes a difference. Even when i don't see it, even when I get so upset because I think nothing will ever change, I know that God speaks through me. I do believe my one vote and my one voice makes a difference.