Monday, February 20, 2006

Moving General Conference over Paul Revere

Essentially, that's what's happening with this move.

In making the change, the United Methodist Commission on the General Conference cited a church policy regarding meeting in cities that are home to professional sports teams with Native American names.

The 2012 General Conference will be held April 25 to May 4 in the 600,000-square-foot Tampa Convention Center.

At the time of the initial selection, commission members were unaware that Richmond is home to the Richmond Braves, a minor league baseball team affiliated with the Atlanta Braves.

The General Conference meets every four years to set policy for the church and adopt or renew resolutions on hundreds of issues and concerns. It draws nearly 1,000 delegates from around the world. The 2004 conference was held in Pittsburgh, and the 2008 gathering will be in Fort Worth, Texas.

A resolution passed by the 2004 General Conference called for United Methodist agencies and organizations to avoid holding meetings and events in cities that sponsor sport teams using Native America names and symbols. "The United Methodist Church rejects the use of Native American names and symbols for sport teams, and considers the practice a blatant expression of racism," the assembly stated.

The United Methodist Commission on the General Conference may be doing something they interperet to be in accord with a GC Resolution, but they're historically wrong on this one. In this case, the name "Braves" derives from the original Boston Braves francise that was named after the "Braves" who took part in the Boston Tea Party... While I'm sure that the actions of the Sons of Liberty could be interpreted as racist, that's a different issue. In this case, we're moving General Conference over Paul Revere....

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Fear and Trembling in New England...

Sitting in the computer lab at the School of Theology, I realized I might not have completed a vital assignment for today. At that moment, my life, the universe, and everything flashed before my eyes and all I could think was "maybe it's really 41!" Odds are, this is just the kind of thought that comes to most sleep-deprived graduate students taking more than a full courseload and trying to work as well... but I can't know unless I'm told.

The truth is, CPE is both more practical and more fulfilling than I had expected -- not because I think it's a bad thing, mind you, but because I had hoped to take it after finishing Seminary and knowing exactly what issues I needed to address in a clinical setting. Our Board of Ordained Ministry has determined that won't work, so I've decided to cram it in now, lose sleep, become a less effective student near the end of my time at school, and try to cram in the experience without having to give up my income to boot... and I'm almost enjoying it.

In my "spare time" I've been contemplating the value of formal seminary education, and I've concluded that at least where I've been a student it is neither academic or practical, but a broken amalgamation of the two, approximating a very poorly organized baccalaureat program. I'm not entirely sure how to do it better, though requiring all our clergy to get an M.A. in either Theology, Biblical Studies, or a related field, and spending an intensive year or two as an associate to a compitent experienced pastor might work as well. I don't know -- but that's more or less what the Wesley's did, and it didn't seem to be any worse than the current system.

I'm in favor of an educated clergy, but I fear the current system creates people without any real expertise, but with substantial sense that they should be experts -- and that might make us all more dangerous, not less.

What do you think? How could we improve on the system most churches use to train clergy?