For those of you traveling to Fort Worth tomorrow, let me offer you 6 easy steps for having a successful General Conference experience:
1. Don’t forget your hat: Here’s Your Packing List
2. Be prepared to encounter some folks engaged in an unspeakable act: Holy Conferencing.
3. Don’t forget to bring some toilet tissue for the inevitable caucus. (think about it…)
4. If you’ve already closed your letter, open it back up again.
5. Remember, we’re not the only Methodists in the world.
Oh, there is one more…don’t act like a jerk. The world is watching and making an opinion of United Methodists.
In all honesty, I love you all and bless you as you represent God and His people of the United Methodist Church. Peace.
Jay of the Methoblog has already geared up the site for General Conference blogging. There are a good many folks that will be live blogging GC and I think that this will be the first time we can really see what is happening from many perspectives almost instantly. (correct me if I’m wrong here, but we as Methodist bloggers definitely weren’t as connected in 00 and 04 as we are now). This has great implications for transparency–maybe not fully at this conference as the full effect of the instant-publishing blogging community may not be understood for an event like this.
While I regret that I will not get to take part in General Conference this year, I am serving as a district delegate for the South Georgia Annual Conference in June. I will definitely be live blogging our AC, for those who are interested. I’ve found that, even though we are in the geographic area that John and Charles Wesley landed and ministered, we don’t have a great deal of publicity! Well, hopefully I can help share what happens this year at the South Georgia Annual Conference and you all can share with me what happens at yours!
So…. This Wednesday, while many of you will be blogging away at the opening of General Conference in Texas, I will be reading my RSS feed and anxiously waiting for Lost to come back from its short hiatus.
Over at UMC.org, Dean McIntyre has offered us some updates and thoughts on the development of the new United Methodist Hymnal. I was intrigued by the results of the surveys that have been conducted:
With that in mind, here are just a few of the statistics and findings from recent surveys:
- The top three favorites in the current United Methodist Hymnal are “Amazing Grace,” “Here I Am, Lord” and “How Great Thou Art.”
- The top three favorite hymns from The Faith We Sing songbook are “The Summons,” “I’ll Fly Away” and “As the Deer.”
- The top favorite of United Methodists under 30 is “Be Thou My Vision.”
- The No. 1 requested hymn to include in a new hymnal: “Eternal Father, Strong to Save.”
- Top three requests to include an updated United Methodist Hymnal or in The Faith We Sing: “Love Lifted Me,” “Open the Eyes of My Heart” and “God Bless America.”
Others findings indicate that the:
Sixty-five percent prefer Wesley texts with their traditional tunes; 33 percent prefer contemporary tunes.
- Most frequently sung non-Christmas hymns over the past three years are “Amazing Grace,” “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” and “Blessed Assurance.”
- Most frequent songs from The Faith We Sing are “Shine, Jesus, Shine,” “Sanctuary” and “They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our Love.”
- Ten percent of pastors, worship planners and chief musicians expressed interest in multiple languages in the Psalter.
- Thirty-six percent prefer the Psalter as it is now presented, 27 percent prefer not to include the chanting, 38 percent would like Psalms set as hymns and songs.
- Seventy-five percent would like to have Healing Services in the hymnal.
- The least-used worship service in the hymnal is Word and Table IV, unused by 34 percent.
- Forty-three percent want more praise choruses in the hymnal; 34 percent do not.
- Seventy percent sing the melodies of our hymns; 61 percent will sing harmony when it is provided.
- Seventy percent are comfortable using male-only language for God, 25 percent are comfortable using female language for God, and 42 percent are comfortable using male or female language for God.
- Twenty-eight percent prefer to sing lyrics on a screen; 70 percent prefer to use a hymnal or songbook.
McIntyre notes that these studies offer a window into the practices of the local church. However, he adds that these surveys are only a part of what needs to be considered for a new hymnal:
More questions: What are the denomination’s membership demographics today, and what are they projected to be over the next generation? What is the current state of technology and how does that compare with the technological capacity in the local church? What price will ensure affordability for customers, as well as ensure the publisher’s ability to recoup the hymnal’s research, editorial and production costs and fund future publishing efforts?
Similarly, it is worth considering: What is the precent of the overall demographic that replied to the online surveys? What about any hard copy surveys? Do those percentages have enough of a cross-section of the entirety of the population to carry a very strong role? Maybe the squeaky wheel gets the grease.
No matter what the situation is here, the UMC should be commended for having a very open process here, both in terms of their surveys and the process involved. Good job, folks.
There is some great discussion going on about the Foundry UMC’s foray into homosexual unions at John’s blog here.
This is a very divisive issue that the entire United Methodist Church will have to face with utter certainty very soon.
If we split over this, it will be hard to minister in either “branch” of the denomination as both of them will then be solely about who allows or doesn’t allow homosexual unions instead of solely about Christ.
Rev. Ann Gordon has become Rev. Drew Phoenix and has been appointed by the Bishop for another year. Uncharted territory, I guess.
Here’s the story.
I’m not quite sure what to say. My gut reaction is that ordained clergy should be held to a very high standard of self-sacrifice; the church should be open to all, but how does that affect the ones that the church ordains? The discipline is silent on this–though, like scripture, I’m not sure that the Discipline needs to address every single thing that governs clergy. Time for a little exegesis in the Discipline (get ready Judiciary). I’m not quite sure what to say.
Rightpundits chimes in.
Where’s ole Mark Tooley’s comments on this?
At the United Methodist Portal, United Methodist respond to the tragedy at Virginia Tech. This seems to be an random aggregation of statements. POINT OF CLARITY: This also means that these folks are probably taken out of context, therefore I am tentative to respond to this UM Portal report. However, since the UM Portal, though an independent organization, bears the name United Methodist, this may be misconstrued as an official statement for our church. This only bothers me because there a couple of responses that I am uncomfortable with:
(because of the Portal’s copyright policy, I can only refer to the comments, I can’t reproduce them–please see the article)
Dr. Edgar, a United Methodist pastor and leader in the National Council of Churches, takes it straight to gun control wondering how much more violence it will take to get some legislation in place. To be fair, Dr. Edgar served six terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. He did some good work there. But I am very concerned when pastors and church leaders turn to the government and legislation to solve spiritual problems and seem to neglect the spirits of people and a land that needs healing. Does the absence of legislation cause one to sin? Does the presence of legislation prevent one from sinning? Does the formation of legislation truly heal?
Jim Winkler of the General Board of Church and Society has similar comments.
POINT OF CLARITY: I am not against legislation. I am against ignoring the healing Spirit of God. Similarly, I greatly appreciate Andy Bryan’s response to the GBCS statement concerning VT.
I am tentative about D. Ciccella’s response, though she has a wonderful spirit of forward thinking and the power of Christ. I am just a little tentative about how our works can instigate forward movement of spirit, but I appreciate the spirit of her response.
Bishop Bickerton offers a great response. Bishop Kyung-Ha Shin shares some good thoughts and some legitimate concerns about how folks will treat the Korean community.
For some other great responses, visit my prior post.
The Washington Post’s online forum, On Faith, asks the following question to a group of panelists:
How does your faith tradition explain (and respond to) senseless tragedies such as the Virginia Tech shootings?
There are a lot of great answers including responses from N.T Wright and Desmond Tutu (read the rest here). There are not, however, any views from the United Methodist or Wesleyan faith tradition.
This is a great question–a great exercise of faith. What do you say?
h/t: Irenic Thoughts