It is my second week here in Tampa at our General Conference. The Council of Bishops meets the week before General Conference starts, so in all I will be away almost three full weeks. Many of us Bishops are questioning the sheer length of General Conference. The time and expense of holding such a long conference does not seem to justify its utility. I believe we are going to have to change the duration and size of our General Conference in the future. To be sustainable, General Conference will need to be shorter in length and involve fewer delegates. This will go against our United Methodist culture, and it is the perfect example of an adaptive challenge that we face.
Our short-term future will be determined in significant ways by this 2012 General Conference. We have major decisions to make about our structure and systems of doing church, and the implications are immense. With so much riding on the outcomes at this time, the pressure on the delegates and leadership is huge. By the Grace of God we are counting on a cooperative spirit and wise judgments from all.
As always, the worship services and proclamation of the Word have been superb. There is always something special about the opening worship service of General Conference, and walking in the processional with the Council of Bishops was a highlight for me. To be in the long line of Saints who have strode in that processional sent a chill down my spine. It made me forever grateful for the past leadership of our church and inspires me to be the best leader I can be for the church of the present.
Much will be decided in the next week here at General Conference. I will give my reflections once many of the decisions have been finalized. For now, I ask all of you to pray for our General Conference. May we be inspired by God to provide a pathway for a viable future of our church.
Be the Hope,