Voting down the Rules altogether leads us to being stuck with the Rules made for a different time, schedule, and place, while also denying the will of General Conference 2012.
Vote it down?
While it seems like this would lead to Lord of the Flies and lawlessness, it actually activates a failsafe: This would cause 2016 to operate under 2012’s Rules and use their processes to guide our 10 days together.
While for some, this does away with the face-to-face aspect of Rule 44, I hope that delegates realize that this action does a whole lot more than keep us from conversation around a table.
What we lose under 2012 Rules
There’s three things that voting down the rules will adversely effect.
- Denial of Delegate hospitality: General Conference is not a doctrine-making machine that must spend every waking moment legislating. It is a holy gathering, which requires time for worship (that event every morning that the caucus group employees walk in at the final minute of with a Starbucks coffee in hand). It is a human gathering, which requires times of sabbath. 2016’s rules end every night at 6:30ish (except Saturday) while 2012 keeps them going until 9pm. We would lose a lot of hospitality by reverting to 2012’s grueling schedule, and correlated lack of meaningful legislation.
- Denial of 2012 General Conference: In 2012, General Conference gave a charge to the Commission that would plan 2016’s conference to make it better, especially around care for delegates and creating a different spirit than the acrimonious 2012. By denying a new set of rules, we are denying the will of GC2012 before this conference even begins.
- Denial of ability to amend. Once the Rules are set, they are not amendable. They can be suspended in some situations, but all the scheduling and daily changes would not be easily changed. That’s problematic for scheduling worship and speakers and everything else contingent on this schedule.
On To Perfection
There’s a lot to lose by voting down the Rules altogether. Delegates will have to work 13 hours each day for 8 days. Worship and speaker schedules will be forced to reschedule or even cancel. And we miss the chance to speak face to face under Rule 44 and find out how the Spirit moves between us.
I hope the Delegates weigh whether a few disagreeable items is worth all of that instead of approving Rules (however amended) that will not be perfect but suitable for the people called Methodists. We are better together.