General Conference 2012 - April 27 Update
April 28, 2012
Day 4 of the 2012 General Conference found the delegates in legislative committees most of the day. That evening everyone participated in an "Act of Repentance toward Healing Relationships with Indigenous Peoples."
The Superintendency Legislative Committee agreed to a proposal from the Council of Bishops seeking a constitutional amendment that would permit them to assign a bishop without a residential assignment to serve as council president. If approved by a two-thirds majority of the assembly, the proposal must still be ratified by two-thirds of all annual conference members voting on the amendment.
The General Administration Legislative Committee is assigned the task of reviewing all structure proposals. In a straw poll, 48 committee members expressed a preference for multiple agencies, and 35 favored the proposal from the Connectional Table that would place nine of the 13 agencies under a single governing body.
Committee members agreed to begin their work with Plan B, an organizational plan submitted by an ad hoc group of delegates that retains four program agencies, continues the General Council on Finance and Administration, and discontinues five general agencies and expenses of 372 board members.
This is only the beginning point. The plan will be changed before presentation to plenary sessions, which begin April 30. Plan B architects already changed their original proposal to allow United Methodist Communications to remain a separate agency. Even if the legislative committee proposes a revised Plan B, a few delegates expect a minority report supporting the Connectional Table plan to be submitted alongside the majority report.
Worshipers were asked to enter into the hall in silence as the Act of Repentance began with a musical Call to Worship by Marcus Briggs-Cloud. Otto Braided Hair recounted, via videotape, atrocities that his grandfather had told him about the Sand Creek Massacre.
The massacre at Sand Creek is a particularly sad part of Native American history that is entwined with United Methodist history. The massacre occurred when a Methodist governor ordered a Methodist pastor to kill over 160 Native Americans, many of whom were children, women or the elderly. The Massacre occurred a month after the Native Americans had surrendered.
One recurring theme of the evening was that repentance is not just a onetime event. "True repentance will mean a change in lifestyle, a process you do again and again; a process you live out of."
Representatives from the Council of Bishops shared the council's statement of sorrow and their commitment to repentance.
The evening concluded on an emotional note as people were asked to come gather a rock from the "River of Life," a symbolic river of rocks which had been placed throughout the floor of the plenary hall. People were asked to take their stone back to their communities as a reminder to "continue to listen and to walk the journey of healing with one another."