Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Help Me Discern!

Annual Conference is only a few days away. I've been getting ready by doing lots of different things; Ben and I are doing two workshops - one on the church and postmodernity and the other on emerging worship. This means preparing presentations, and making darn sure I know my stuff (which is a humbling experience in and of itself).

However, I've also been praying a lot - for the New England Conference, for its leadership, for those who will be receiving new appointments and their churches...that sort of stuff. I've also been praying about submitting my name as a floor nomination to General Conference.

When I was looking over the names of those to be elected, I noticed a few things on the laity side (bear in mind that we get six lay delegates to General, and 12 to Jurisdictional):

1) Out of the nine people running, only one is under the age of 30.

2) Out of those nine, only one is a woman.

I feel rather conflicted, though I think in some ways I'm leaning toward submitting my name. The downsides would be traveling to the pre-conference meetings; they are held in Mass., which would mean traveling from New Jersey one weekend every couple months. I also really hesitate to play the diversity card. Although I celebrate having a diverse delegation with a variety of different gifts, it really, really bothers me when before people vote, members of AC get up to make a brief speech about how we already have three white men elected, or one black woman, but no Asian men or what have you. I feel that by submitting my name, I would be the young white woman under thirty (the only one who would run, mind you).

Although I struggle with this, I do feel like I need to make sure the voice of the young people are heard. I still love this denomination, and I feel called to help lead the United Methodist Church into the future. There appears to be some good legislation being sent to General Conference this year (http://www.gbod.org/youngpeople/connected/global/leg.htm). Granted, whether or not the future of the church includes sitting around debating legislation, I don't know. But I feel like I do have something to add to the conversation as a young person. I was elected in 2004 as a delegate to Jurisdictional, so hopefully people remember my name...

So -- there you have it. If you could help me shed some prayerful light on the situation, I would greatly appreciate it...


Kristen said...

SUBMIT YOUR NAME!!!! I am sick of sitting at conferncees for the United Methodist Church and seeing mostly people over the age of 60! We need younger voices at confrence! IT will be worth the travel!

Anonymous said...

Melissa, go for it!!!! I'd vote for you if I could!!!!

Amy said...

As a fellow UM in the Northeastern Jurisdiction with similar passions, please please submit your name. Also, have some casual conversations with folks to feel them out/let them know of your discernment process in some way.

Elizabeth said...

Melissa - DEFINITELY go for it! One woman? No young people? Definitely you should try for it. Did I mention that you should definitely run? Having a strong group of future-minded young people there is really the only hope for the church, I really believe that. Let us know what you decide!

JWD said...

When it comes to discernment, I always find it helpful to ask how much the word should is at play. Often, if the phrase I should do it is the loudest one in my head, then I step back from it a bit.

Likewise, I ask, is there something about this idea that really energizes me? Do I feel more tired when I consider going to these meetings? Or do I feel excited about the conversations I'd engage in while there?

Perceiving a need (for better representation, for justice, or for something as mundane as the need for food on the table) doesn't mean that you're necessarily the one to fill that need. The confusion of those two things too often lead to burn out. IMHO.

rev maria said...

That's the beauty of discernment. we get to look at the pros and cons and then do what the Spirit calls us to do.

If you have the time to commit to the pre-conference meetings, if you have the desire to serve your denomination in this way, and if you are considering it because YOU want to, not because "if not me, then who?" - you should go for it.

but, if the time commitment will cause you to resent the church, the conference and your own decision making - you shouldn't

If you are truly called to go, you will know.

Songbird said...

It sounds like you feel a call to do this, and so I hope you will! I'm on my way in the morning to a meeting for which the delegates have been carefully chosen to be representative. In the UCC we begin with the premise that it ought to be that way, although I think we have trouble finding the willing younger persons to make the ages balance. (*I* may turn out to be the young person in this crowd, and I'm 46!)

Lorna (see through faith) said...


We need you - but we also need a heck of a lot more of people like you throughout GC. I too am tired of old people having THE say - though I respect so many of them for what they have done over the years - is IS time to pass the mantle - skip my generation (47) and hand the baton over to those in their 30s and under.

Our conference has one laity and one pastor (we are very small!) ... praise God the lay delegate (elected for 4 years) is under 40.

But a word of caution. You alone cannot change the conference overnight - and if the frustration will be too high - or as RevMaria said - if you went and ended up resenting the church - it's not worth it.

Above all -instead of playing politics - seek God. He knows where He wants you right now and will tell you - if you slow down and ask Him.


PS HOpe you post your workshops on PM and altworship ... I'd love to participate or at least read them :)

DogBlogger said...

I was elected to Jurisdictional in 2004 as well, and Monday I was elected to the General delegation. I, too, was feeling conflicted; I know life would be easier in the coming year if I hadn't done it, but I couldn't shake the sense of calling that I had, so I went in willing.

Blessings to you as you discern!

revabi said...

Amy put your name in!
Go for it.
You may or may not get elected this year, but your face will be out there.