Manipulation, Holy Conferencing, Trustworthiness and Transparency
“This will go down as the one of the most manipulative General Conferences in recent memory.”
-Bishop Felton May, earlier this evening in front of the Westin in Tampa. Quoted with permission.
“You can call it holy conferencing if you want, but, Lord have mercy, it looks to me like the fix is in.”
-a delegate who wishes not to be identified.
We’ve been asked by our leadership to trust, and God knows (truly) that for months now I’ve been praying hard for trust; lots of us have. My prayers for trust at General Conference were working great… until the actual business of General Conference got underway.
The General Conference Rules Committee proposed changes in the rules that have huge implications and that will likely give significant advantage to large bundles of legislation that come out of our boards, agencies, commissions, and councils. Given these implications, it was no surprise that delegates proposed many amendments. That was entirely predictable. Here is what was surprising: the leaders setting the calendar and those who determined last night that we could not discuss the actual amendments, then failed to leave much room on the calendar this morning for discussion. We ran out of time and patience. You wouldn’t have to be overly cynical to wonder if it was planned that way.
I would prefer to think not … but it wouldn’t be the first time for that to happen.
Sadly, the rising levels of distrust put at risk the very proposals for reform that our leaders have proposed.
To the Bishops and others leading this assembly: If you want us to trust, you not only have to be trustworthy, you also have to be transparent and leave room for the process to work.
We have a chance to turn our church around at this General Conference. It is precisely because the stakes at this General Conference are so high that even the mere appearance of manipulation is terribly costly.
Let’s keep praying not only for trust but, just as important, for our leaders to be both trustworthy and transparent. May it be so.