Diary of a Delegate: Day Three – Tears

Thursday in twitter topics, from @andrewconard

Yes, I know. Technically, I could subtitle any day at General Conference, or anywhere else for that matter, with that word.

I’m a crier. It’s me.

But Thursday there were more tears than usual.

I’ll give a shout out to Adam Hamilton, who after a lot of critique of the proposal he helped present, agreed to meet with the young people who had raised concerns. That was very gracious of him.

We had a long day in our committees and subcommittees, where, it must be noted, there is spotty wifi and very little cell reception (and so I’m not able to blog, facebook, or tweet).

As I had planned, I self-selected onto the subcommittee on reproductive rights, because that subcommittee was in need of progressive voices– and it still is. We’re pretty outnumbered, including by some who believe abortion is wrong in all– and I mean all– cases, including rape and incest, birth defects incompatible with the life of the child, and threats to the life of the mother.

But what our chairperson did was really wonderful. Before we discussed any legislation, she invited us to share where our hearts were on the subject of abortion. What followed was a truly holy conversation, with deep sharing of personal stories. There were tears and  hugs and similar experiences shared from around the world and across the theological perspective. I shared my story, and wept.

Mark Miller and many other delegates stood to express their pain and brokenness. (picture found on facebook, HT Joey Lopez- I don't know original source)

In the evening, as our legislation was wrapping up, Mark Miller, a delegate to this General Conference and often our music leader in times past, stood for a point of personal privilege. Mark was joined at the microphone by a number of other delegates who were willing to identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender voting members of the conference. As they stood together at the mic, Mark shared that many people (certainly not all– some had experienced wonderful conversation) felt bullied, abused, or wounded by the attempt at holy conversation the day before around human sexuality. Mark invited other delegates on the floor and visitors around the room to stand in solidarity as well. Although the presiding Bishop ruled the act of courage and solidarity out of order, he agreed to say a prayer on behalf of a wounded and broken church community.

Witness outside the plenary session.

As the room emptied later, delegates, volunteers, and guests lines the hallway, holding hands and standing in silence, or crying quietly, or later singing. So much pain. We gathered in the Coalition Tabernacle and debriefed and hugged and cried some more.

I shed one more round of tears last night and into the early hours of this morning. After all was said and done, I spent several hours sharing refreshments and conversation with some friends from my conference (and former conference). We laughed until we couldn’t breathe and I wept tears of mirth.

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3 Responses

  1. Powerful piece. Thank you for sharing with such tenderness, care, and frankness. Here’s my contribution:
    A Pastoral Letter to the United Methodist Church
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/faithforward/2012/04/a-pastoral-letter-to-the-united-methodist-church/

  2. Thank you Becca….

  3. excellent, as usual, becca. great piece, roger.

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