GC2016 — Text, Subtext, Context

Today is the first day the rumor mills churned out of control.  If you skim social media, you might pick up any of a hundred different rumors about what is happening behind the scenes at General Conference.  It caused us to change our agenda so that Bishop Bruce Ough could address the rumors.  He came to talk about our brokenness and our inability to rise above our human differences to be the body of Christ.  Can we be one church in spite of our differences?  The Council of Bishops have determined that we must stay united.  Unity is our only option as people of faith, though the bishops themselves are not fully united.  They do not advocate any separation or radical restructuring of the church.  They will preside over the church we ARE, not the church some want us to be.  They remain open to listen and discern.  We are who we are, and together we will figure out who we will be.  We belong to God and to one another.  We are challenged to redouble our efforts to commit to unity.

So, most of the rumors aren’t true, and the we will deal with the text that is, rather than the multi-layered, multi-faceted subtext that raises fear and expresses distress, to live together in a context of brokenness, but with hope and assurance that God is with us in all our struggles and strife.  Thanks be to God.

6 replies

  1. Bishop Brown started a conversation. Was Bishop Ough part of that from the beginning? If they either didn’t believe they had a consensus behind them or were unwilling to proceed without unanimity, then WHY would they start conversations that they could not finish???

    I do believe that Love Your Neighbor was the only part to reveal that conversations had happened. Did they misread where things were or simply try to time their “disclosure” in an attempt to influence events???

    It is hard for a honest assessment of the situation to say that the final result makes any positive statement about the leadership coming from the COB.

    • My sense is that this morning was damage control. The confidentiality of the Council of Bishops was breached, opinion was shared as facts, rumors cascaded, and the bishops decided it would be better to say something than to let the rumors spread unchallenged. And actually it began long before the bishops even formally met. All afternoon yesterday, people were speculating as to why the bishops were going to meet. In an atmosphere of such rampant distrust, it is unlikely any other scenario would have played out.

  2. In his press conference following speaking to the body Bishop Ough said confidentiality had not been breached, rather “the conversations reached a stage where approving people to talk about concepts was allowed.” It sounds like some of the conversation partners mistakenly understood that the Council of Bishops was going to lead an effort to move a specific plan forward. Do you think the public statements last night and this morning by various participants in these conversations will aid or thwart whatever efforts might be in the works?

    • Hearsay makes everything tricky. As I said, rumors began before the meeting even began, but I was told there were things being shared that could only have come from someone in the room. That said, I don’t know what those “things” are. I feel it may have been an attempt to force the bishops’ hand and that there was not much really happening. Enough to raise concerns, enough to address, and enough to force a public statement. Nothing more. I don’t think it will change the debate/discussion/conversation much at all. It, sadly, is one more testimony to our current dysfunction.

  3. Well, this rhetoric and stand to remain united means quite simply that the injustice will continue for another 4 years. No disrespect intended, but if the bishops knew what to do they would do it. They are as clueless as everyone else. The truth is that the connection has broken apart before. Why are we so arrogant at the expense of people on both sides to continue this sham of caring. Again, I really like your posts, and I like your balance, but that can also be a way of manipulating and softening the outcome.

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