Friday, April 27, 2012

Legislative work

Most of the first week at GC is spent in legislative sections.  All of the petitions submitted to the conference are divided into sections so that we can go over the work thoroughly and amend me, reject them, or affirm them.  To further this work, we often break into subcommittees to do our work.  Here's what Wednesday-Friday looked like in for us.
Wednesday
8:00 a.m. - Full plenary with all delegates
1:30 p.m. - Break into legislative committees for first time; elect chair, vice-chair, secretary.  These elections are important because they hold power as to who speaks and if conversation will be handled fairly.  This lasted most of the afternoon, and we didn't come back to our legislative committees until the next morning.
Thursday
8:00 a.m. - Full plenary
10:30 a.m. - Legislative section; we elected chairs of sub-committees and reconvened after lunch
1:30: We split into subcommittees and spent the afternoon on our particular petitions.

I am in the Worldwide Nature of the Church sub-committee in the Faith and Order legislative section.  We had eight petitions in our sub-committee and it took is Thursday afternoon and all day Friday to get through them.  In our room, there were 23 people, including a German woman, a Danish man, a  Tanzanian man, and a Congolese woman.  At one point, someone was speaking in German, which was being translated into English, which was then translated into Swahili - talk about a worldwide church!  In sub-committees, we take the petitions entrusted to us and we spend a lot of time discussing them, amending them, and then vote on them.  Our recommendation is passed on to the full committee (75 people), which is then voted on during the second week of GC (with all 988 delegates).

It's important to note that if you hear anything about a petition being passed at this point, it is only in the early stages of being approved.  Most likely, it means that a group of 25 people approved it, and it could mean that 75 people approved it.  But any decision made can be reversed until we vote on it next week.  And there are numerous petitions that deal with an issue in different committees (for instance, there are more than 70 petitions around the issue of homosexuality - these petitions will fit into categories in every committee.)  If you hear "such and such passed in committee", it really means very little at this stage but could set things up to go a certain direction in the future.  Make sense?  No?  That's okay :)

Tomorrow, our legislative section will spend our entire day together hearing petitions and voting on them.  Please pray for patience, grace, and God's will in our discussions and work.  As you can imagine, things can get very tense in these settings and we need God's wisdom!

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