A few weeks ago she talked about the church closing shop for a day like Starbucks did to refocus on what our true purpose is. She spoke in mostly generalities. The following week we heard/read comments from various folks around the conference. One basically called her out and said, "I think you're talking about X, but you didn't really say, could you clarify?"
This week she sent out her top ten list for General Conference (found below). I was pleased with a number of her items, but was more pleased with the specificity (without being too rigid or narrow) of what she hoped for. The things she named are easily translatable into congregational settings and can be used/implemented in a variety of ways.
My frustration throughout this year (from a variety of places in the conference) has been a lack of expectations. No one can/will tell me what they want from me (as a pastor/young adult/Christian...). We talk in ambiguities and fail to name the things we expect of people. I posted before about living up to expectations, so I won't go into all of that again. But it was nice this week to have a handle on what, specifically, the Bishop is looking for from the churches/disciples/members of our conference.
e360 March 12, 2008 “Bishop’s Top Ten”
Following Bishop Swenson’s elective, out-patient surgery last week, she was recovering nicely at home—and still managed to get a flu bug. So since she’s still down for a bit, we decided to send here the article also appearing in today’s edition of the national UM-Newscope: the Bishop was asked to list what she thought would be the “top ten things that General Conference could do that would make a real difference.” For those of you who don’t get Newscope, here’s her list. And for her follow-up on the “Starbucks & core competency” question, watch for her message here next week, when we trust she’ll be feeling much better. gary
Top Ten Actions of General Conference That Would Make Disciples of Jesus Christ For the Transformation of the World
Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, Los Angeles Episcopal Area
1. Admission into congregational membership shall be contingent upon the following criteria: pending members shall regularly participate in a class / covenant group meeting (3/4 of the scheduled meetings over four months); be recommended by the pending member’s class / covenant group; accomplish 72 hours of hands-on mission service; make and keep a pledge of 3% of net taxable income. Annual continuation of membership shall be contingent upon these same criteria, with the modification that the period of class participation shall be over ten months.
2. Every annual conference shall annually provide evidence to the Council of Bishops that 25% of the conference’s total worshipping attendance has participated in 72 or more hours of hands-on mission work with the homeless and the hungry, the ill and dispossessed.
3. Every annual conference shall provide evidence to the Council of Bishops that the Conference is annually increasing the percentage of those in worship attendance participating in hands-on mission work.
4. The General Conference shall expand funding in order to scholarship at least 50% of the cost of full-time enrollment for approved ministerial candidates attending United Methodist seminaries.
5. The General Conference shall extend funding to cover at least 50% of the cost of lay speaker certification across the denomination.
6. The General Conference shall assign to the Jurisdictional Sessions the authority to monitor and approve the operational and missional structures of the annual conferences within their respective jurisdictions.
7. Congregations seeking a full-time appointed elder shall show pledged and loose plate receipts for the prior two years sufficient to fully compensate an appointment at the minimum equitable salary rate as established by the Annual Conference in which the congregation is located.
8. For the purposes of interfaith dialogue, General Conference shall suspend Articles I and II of the Restrictive Rules for one quadrennium.
9. The General Conference shall make the following co-contingent changes:
§ Re-set the term of service for Bishops from four years to six years;
§ Re-set the frequency of Jurisdictional Conferences to every three years;
§ Re-set the total number of delegates to General Conference to 500;
§ Re-set the frequency of General Conference to every six years;
§ Empower the Connectional Table to address denominational needs in the interim between General Conference sessions.
10. General Conference shall schedule one full day of the 2012 General Session for all delegates to be in hands-on service to the indigent living in the city hosting the General Conference.