Annual Conference in Arkansas did not start out well this year. The box of RMN materials somehow did not get loaded in the car with the rest of the materials for our ACT table. We loaded the table with stoles and some bullying information borrowed from our friends at the MFSA table next door. Much of the business was concerned with our (ongoing) Conference restructuring, but 3 of the 5 resolutions up for consideration had direct impact on RUMs in Arkansas. Resolution 2 was patterned after the compromise that failed at General Conference calling for respect for minority opinions, especially those involving homosexuality. This was submitted by a moderate clergy member and a Confessing clergy member, and passed after a long discussion. Following that a clergy member not aligned with the right or left asked Bishop Crutchfield for a restatement of the rules of Holy Conferencing. His response was that nothing should be said or done that Jesus wouldn’t have done. Resolution 3, written by the ACT and submitted by MFSA and BMCR, with concurrence from Church and Society, required all churches and districts to engage in Sacred Conversations on human sexuality. After an even longer discussion, it passed as submitted with a call for an appointed task force to establish curriculum and an assurance that all viewpoints be respected. This amendment was proposed by a member of the Confessing movement and was accepted as a friendly amendment. Resolution 4 was written by a member of our team for MFSA and BMCR and condemned bullying, with calls for strong civil and criminal penalties. This one required even more debate and discussion, but it also passed.
The groundwork we have been laying for the last four years is truly beginning to pay off. More and more stoles show up on the floor every year. We have worked on creating and expanding relationships, and our coalition work with MFSA and BMCR is beginning to gain respect. We have a new Reconciling group since last Conference, with 2 more Sunday School classes and 2 more congregations holding conversations on the Reconciling process. Best of all, we finally passed resolutions! The Spirit is spreading throughout our Conference! Change is coming!
- Harold Hughes, Little Rock, Arkansas -