Third Update on General Conference – Out of the Chute

My grandfather was a roper, and my aunt was a barrel racer. Needless to say, I spent a good deal of time around rodeos. While I loved those events, my favorites were always the chute events … bronc and bull riding. In each of these events, the horse or the bull would be brought into a chute. For those who might not know, it is a space not much bigger than the animal itself. The door to the chute is beside the animal, and the animal is placed so that the animal’s head is toward the hinge of the gate. The gate swings open from the backside of the animal, and then the animal breaks free with the rider holding on and, where possible, spurring the animal to even wilder kicks. Even though the full ride requires a great deal of work on the part of the rider, the hardest part of the ride is generally just getting out of the chute and into the arena.

Today’s proceedings of the General Conference felt a lot like that … the challenge of just getting out of the chute. For those who were watching the video feed, it seemed like a big challenge in hoping for the eventual adoption of the One Church Plan (or perhaps even the Simple Plan). The delegates today were asked to prioritize the legislation for the group to act on as a legislative committee.

At most gatherings of the General Conference, the delegates divide into several small groups (legislative committees) early in the General Conference to work on legislation that will be brought back to the plenary session. The legislative committees operate by slightly different rules than in the plenary session, and their job is to craft legislation that will be presented and (hopefully) adopted by the plenary session.

As Methodists, we tend to be rather … well, methodical … in our way of doing things. So the delegates, as the plenary session prioritized the list that was sent to the legislative committee … which, in this General Conference, is the exact same group of people with a different hat on. So the plenary session was adjourned and then immediately reconvened as the legislative committee. Funny? Yes … we are an interesting people, we Methodists.

The room got very quiet when the prioritized list was presented. The plan known as the Traditional Plan was higher in priority than the plan known as the One Church Plan. Admittedly, it caught me a bit off guard. In further conversation with a couple of the delegates from our Annual Conference, I realized that this was not really the pitting of one plan against another. It was simply asking for the order in which plans would be considered. Each delegate was given the opportunity to cast a vote on each of the three primary plans and a host of separate petitions expressing whether they thought the plans were a high priority or a low priority. Then the totals were cast, and the results were read.

In practical terms, that means that one person wanting to consider all three of the primary plans could have ranked them all as “high priority.” While the Traditional Plan was ranked higher, the One Church Plan was not that far behind. That said, the work has only just begun. The delegates will begin their work in earnest tomorrow as they begin a long legislative process of working through the agenda.

You see, the trick in bronc or bull riding is not to get pinned or struck by any part of the chute or the gate on the way out of the chute. For someone like me, it was perhaps a rocky start, but we are out of the chute. We are in the arena, and we will see what tomorrow brings.

As my friend, George, always says … courage, my friends. Courage!


For full information on the proceedings of the General Conference, click HERE.

The daily record of the General Conference is called the Daily Christian Advocate, and you may find it by clicking HERE.

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