I admit… I may not have done my due diligence in digging out the details of Plan UMC. Not that as a reserve delegate I got to vote on it. Not that we had enough time to absorb it. Not that there was enough time and attention given during plenary to truly perfect it.
But I knew that when I went home, I was going to have to explain what we did, so I’ve been digging deep through it so I could share honestly and truthfully.
Here are some discoveries:
1) There is absolutely no process listed for the election of the new Executive General Secretary of the board… none whatsoever. Not who elects, not where from. Nothing.
2) Any cobbled together piece of legislation is messy… it jumps all over the place… it took me hours to figure out what everything was and make sense of it.
3) There are inconsistencies in the number of reps the boards will have. I may be a preacher, but I once was good at math, and my addition leaves me with one extra member on almost every board.
4) The numbers for the representation for UMW are different than what we passed on consent calendar and because it was passed afterwards thus supercede the request and approved numbers from the UMW themselves.
5) Faith and Order moves from being a committee that reports to General Conference to a committee under that Council of Bishops. This, I believe, is one of the most amazing changes in this legislation… it means that the theological and ecclesiological questions of how we live together now rest where (I believe) it should… with those we have chosen to lead us and with those who are set apart to offer prophetic witness and to move the church to where the Holy Spirit calls.
6) A new General Secretaries Council is created that is a gathering of all of the general secretaries from the boards and agencies + the executive general secretary. This is for the purposes of collaboration and sharing. But, it is also stated very clearly that if the direction from the new General Council on Strategy and Oversight conflicts with the intention of a specific board, that General Secretary is obligated to follow the direction of the board and not the GCSO. There is freedom here
7) I was worried about young people. Previously, there were specific spots mentioned in the discipline regarding membership of each board/agency and representation. In the Book of Discipline… under the description of membership on each of the boards, an item regarding diversity WAS RETAINED. It actually calls for diversity in gender, clergy/lay, race/ethnicity, and mandates 10% of the board members be young people. On a board of 30… that is at least 3 seats. On the GCSO, that is at least 5 seats at the table.
8) As the new Committee on Inclusiveness is described, I am not so fearful as I once was when we seemingly lost the work of GCSRW and GCORR… there are some hopes that the monitoring, ethical, and prophetic work they do might actually have a stronger voice in it’s new location… only time will tell.
As you can see, I have a positive feelings and negative feelings. I’m not sure how it will all shake out, but some pieces of this plan give me reason to hope that maybe we didn’t just restructure money… but might have done some small adaptive changes… God help us!