We’ve only just begun what will be a very short time together, and most of our time has been spent in worship and formal presentations, so your opportunities to self-monitor during discussion and debate are yet to come. Even so, the monitors have some interesting observations to share just based on our first sessions.
First, we want to commend the parliamentarian, Leonard Young, for both his use of inclusive language generally, and his self-awareness in correcting himself when realizing he could be even more inclusive. Dr. Young’s inclusive language was clear in his repeated references to people as “he or she,” great to hear, but even though not universal, not exceptional. Even better, there were a few times when he self-corrected for inclusiveness in a way that WAS more unusual. One monitor was especially struck by Dr. Young’s realization that his use of an athletic reference might not have made sense to those who live outside the United States. His exact words were not noticed, but we did notice that when the delegates didn’t react as he expected, he seemed to realize that his illustration wasn’t understood by everyone as he had intended. He then noted that, and went on to describe the point in other ways. Dr. Young provided a lovely example of how one CAN be self-aware, by noting the reactions of others, and correcting oneself in the moment. We noted that Dr. Young identified as NOT a United Methodist, but we hope he’d like to reconsider that! Thank you, Dr. Young.
Second, we want to celebrate the musicians, led by Raymond Trapp from Brooklyn, NYC. They are wonderfully diverse in multiple ways, and we also appreciate the way they seem to intentionally share in the leadership so that Raymond isn’t always at the forefront. Clearly, no one is “only” a back-up singer in the group. Also, we noticed the use of inclusive language in some of the songs – “Yes God is!” Nicely done! Thanks!
Third, we loved the Native American blessing in the opening worship, in two languages and by a man and a woman together. Their words reflected their own gender diversity, referring to “Earth Mother,” as well as “Grandmother of the South,” in addition to “Grandfather of the East.” It was so beautiful to hear liturgical leaders using female gendered references in worship. And beyond that one element, the entire opening worship was marked by wonderful diversity. The monitors noted that each person represented a different gender/racial/ethnic mix – not a single one the same as another. It truly was a sign of the diversity of our great Church. Thank you so much for a great start to the day.
Once we got to business, we noticed that the Commission on the Way Forward report was presented by a nice diversity of their membership. After that though, there were mostly white male speakers. This is when the hard work begins. Let us make sure all the voices of the Church are heard, even when not scripted as for worship and formal reports. Be ready to step up and represent, everyone!
By the way, we are also monitoring Facebook and Twitter. Let us refrain from commenting on our women bishop’s clothing, appearance, beauty, etc. They are inspiring leaders and awesome parliamentarians – all of them!