Having not met in person since December, we began our meeting checking in. Among items discussed:
- Possible responses to our work and October event
- Whether we have any response to talk of denominational schism
- “There doesn’t have to be an actual separation to be separation.”
- Is Clergy Covenant Team being perceived as de facto progressive wing of conference clergy? Can we still gather in the big picture even if there are major areas of difference among colleagues?
- Frustration expressed over perceived widening gulf in denomination
- Media coverage of denomination is reactive, focused on conflict, short on perspective or coherent narrative of where things may be headed
- “Conflict is not in and of itself negative. It is a wonderful opportunity for transformation. But we have to sit down and engage it. You can’t just throw it out there on the Listserve. How can we engage together in a way that is relational? ?We have to at least continue being relational. It has to be face to face. It takes a lot of courage. It takes at least a willingness to come together. It’s not easy.”
- This team’s genesis was in Amy’s trial. Which led to the proposal that formed this team. Which included the pledge to no longer accept discrimination. “It feels like we’re still trying to figure out whether we want to do that.”
- “We have tried to have this group be diverse. Some have opted out. Some want everybody at the table ‘in the old way.’ Why don’t we have the moral courage to stand up to that?”
- “We have no authority or power to end discrimination. We do have authority to clarify where we are in Wisconsin around that issue. LGBTQ is a presenting issue, but it doesn’t represent a desired outcome. Our focus is not General Conference legislation. The crux: the mission and ministry in the UMC in the Wisconsin Conference.”
What we want our speakers/moderators to think about:
- How to give language to address positional statements
- Reflection on biblical narratives
- What does covenant (Bible, Discipline) mean? What does it look like? Examples?
- What does it mean to break covenant?
- How to keep covenant when covenant is hard. (e.g. in the context of power differentials)
- How do we navigate/vocate in the midst of church/world complexity?
Monday, Oct. 13
2-4p Session. Start face to face.
3-4p Move in.
Tuesday, Oct. 14
Rough cost estimates
Site costs: $60-$72 a person out of pocket, includes overnight and 3 meals
We will investigate how we might offer CEUs to participants
Relationship to episcopal office
On the same day as this Covenant Team meeting, convener Steve Scott met with Bishop Jung to discuss the potential involvement of the episcopal office in the October event. Bishop Jung :
- Agreed to be present at the conference/retreat, and to participate in whatever way we might wish. (e.g. speak, Bible study, etc.)
- Agreed to serve as a “co-inviter” to clergy in the conference to attend the event. (Either to send his own invitation letter or sign on to ours.)
- Encouraged us to begin planning for a second covenant conference/retreat in Spring 2015. (Suggestions: Just Peace, Tom Porter, Stephanie Hixson, Parker Palmer)
- Expressed his vision of Covenant Team’s work and future timeline: “This is a gift to the Conference, a gift to the United Methodist Church, a gift for the general church. I don’t see the team continuing indefinitely. Maybe the event this fall, an event in spring 2015, then come to the 2015 Annual Conference to guide us forward, not with a legislative alternative, but with a ‘rule of life.’
- Offered financial support for the October 2014 event from the episcopal event, the amount of which to be discussed once we have a firmer handle on our revenue and expenses.