Special Session General Conference 2019
GCORR Monitoring Report
Monday, February 25, 2019
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us…”
Hebrews 12:1, NRSV
“Cloud of witnesses”—“the ancestors”—“the grandparents”—“our forebears”. We use many phrases, from varied cultural heritages, to express our respect for those who have taken the journey of life before us, laying the fabric for identity, community and a way to look at the world around us. In many indigenous cultures there is an awareness that we are watched over, not simply out of a care for our generation, but for how our actions will impact multiple generations ahead. If our actions concern only ourselves then we fail to recognize that we are interconnected to our past and our future.
All who are here at GC2019 are witnesses, one journey removed from the eternal cloud of witnesses. We have engaged observations from a random cohort group, some who are delegates witnessing the experience of Holy Conferencing from within the circle of power and influence of the voting bar. The others are witnessing that Holy Conferencing from the external margin, the place impacted by the action and behaviors within that voting delegation. We have also been polling individuals at large.
Some initial observations from that cloud of witnessing in our midst noted that it is hard to not be distracted. The sources of distraction are several. Even in the midst of prayer it is difficult to not be distracted by the urgent feeling of needing to begin the pivotal work of the petitions. At tables we become distracted by our pattern of expressing thoughts through social media. Perhaps some conversational deliberations and activities would benefit from participants engaging in a “digital fast”. When in conversation it may be difficult to not be distracted by wondering what the agenda of the other person might be.
For example, as the plans from the Commission on a Way Forward were being presented multiple individuals noted that the speakers were talking too quickly, causing lapses of content in the translation into other languages. It was not an intentional action, yet in a heightened environment it raised anxiety rather than reducing it. Now that the prioritization of the handling of petitions has been determined, the distractions mentioned earlier can directly impact how well we are able to engage in holy conferencing. And, in a time of considerable expressed anxiousness every action and optic takes on larger dimensions.
Finally, another form of the cloud of witnessing comes through the use of graphic art, capturing images, themes, emotions and expressions. Please take time to view the work of the artists we have asked to help in the observing of our processes as a faith community. Where do you see your own feelings and perspectives woven into those art boards?