General Conference vs. Christian Conferencing

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What is it?

I am in agreement with Rev. Felton in that I have yet to see anything approaching a clear definition of Christian Conferencing. The examples and experiments I have seen at past General Conferences depended entirely on what questions were asked of the small discussion groups. Invariably, I saw bad questions that were disposed of quickly or were ignored, leaving the groups to do what groups with no direction do: nap, fidget, or change the subject. But I think the intention of the GC Commission is that delegates not only come with their own ideas and experiences but also respect and listen to the ideas and experiences of the others who are present. Roberts Rules are just complex enough to allow those with legislative experience to know how to limit debate and shut out "outlier" voices and other minorities. Our annual conference tried a discussion process that was far more effective than anything I've seen at General Conference or any other conference, even our own at other times. The first day and a half of the conference were used by groups of fifty conference members, split half and half between clergy and laity to discuss all of the legislation before the conference, including budget and mission projects. These were not "legislative committees" but "committees of the whole." We could call in conference officers and agency heads as needed. They eded up running from group to group! And we took votes on each issue after discussing them. These were recorded and everything that passed all of the groups became the consent agenda. The rest became the agenda of the plenary without the committees' votes reported. The floor discussions were short and to the point because all the whining and emotional issues were relieved in the committees and only relevant concerns made it to the floor. We finished on time and everyone felt they had been heard. Like all really good ideas, this was passed over in succeeding years because the conference leadership lost control. But that's another story

Jerry Eckert more than 3 years ago