As we continue in plenary, we have been led carefully by members of the Council of Bishops. They have presided graciously as they have led us through our day’s business.
One particular star of inclusion is Bishop Riggle Huie who was very careful to be sure that everyone knew “where we are” in the process. In addition she called for the body to vote again on one particular piece of legislation when it was pointed out that it should have been announced that a previous vote required affirmation by 2/3rds of the body. Inviting the delegates to put on their headphones to be about the work while others sang outside the bar, she acknowledged that we work within an institution that is not all of one mind or voice.
A second star of inclusion is Bishop Patrick Streiff who presided in French (not his first language). He gave us the opportunity to experience the work of conference from the perspective of those who must depend on the translators and the use of headphones to do this work. Perhaps that experience will help us to better work together. In addition, Bishop Streiff’s patience with the technologies we use made it possible for people to have their voices heard. Please wait while we clear the queue…Please wait while we give people a chance to enter the queue. Thank you so much.
That said, we still have ways in which we can do better as the body of Christ. In our sessions those speaking have been primarily from the United States (approximately 77%) with less said by delegates from the Central Conferences (approximately 23%). And within both the voices of women were far fewer (approximately 27%) than those of the men (73%). It is very hard, with the current system, to see whether women want to speak. Please remember it is important that we hear as many voices as possible before decision making.
And finally, a quick word about letting people speak for themselves. We have observed and had reported to us, that there have been incidents of “mansplaining.” Simply put, it is to explain something to someone, typically a man to woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing. Doing this discounts the voice of the speaker. In our conversations with one another, let’s allow people to speak for themselves and when more clarity is needed let that person speak for him or herself.