Now that the conference season is over, some thoughts from the latest one: Juriscitional Conference in Dallas.
1. I'm really not sure why we have Jurisdictions. Perhaps other jurisdictions serve more of a purpose than SouthCentral, but in my mind there were only 2 1/2 significant decisions to make - election of Bishops, election of general agency board members, and (the 1/2) the vote on the Bush Institutute at SMU. The last gets 1/2 because if we didn't have jurisdictions SMU wouldn't be owned by the jurisdiction and we wouldn't have had to deal with that one. I have to believe there is a more efficient and equally faithful way for this work to be done. At a minimum it seems to me that Jurisdictional Conferences could meet for 1-2 days immediately following General Conferece, saving transportation costs and time.
2. The election of Bishops was a frustrating experience. I find it extraordinary that for 3 consecutive quadrenia an ethnic minority woman candidate has failed to be elected. Those who disagree with me say that there were good reasons that each of those women was not elected. Certainly a motivated person could find reason not to vote for any of them. But a motivated person could find a reason to not elect any of the candidates, including the ones who were elected. When the final result appeared inevitable a Kansas delegate commented that this election was proof that a candidate from Kansas or another northern state could get elected if that person was an excellent candidate. My complaint is that a candidate from Texas doesn't have to be excellent, just adequate, to get elected. I was also frustrated because after knowing for a full year who the candidates were, interviewing each of them, receiving written answers to questions from each of them, and having informal conversation with them, we were still subjected to two days of unsubstantiated rumors that I'm sure took some votes away from the two candidates running second and third in the election for the final spot.
3. There was some talk of resuming the "northern coalition" of Nebraksa/Kansas/Missouri and sometimes Arkansas. After my last comment you might think I think that's a good idea, but I don't. First of all, from a purely political point of view, those four states combined curently have 98 votes. If 100% of the delegations voted together in this year's conference they would still have need 80 more votes to get someone elected. In fact, from my count, if every non-Texas delegate voted for the same person there would still not be enough votes for election. Demographics suggest this trend will continue. From a purely political point of view, there has to be some kind of coalition with individuals, delegations, or caucuses from the south for someone from the north to get elected. Second, and more importantly, I'm not sure it's a faithful position. I don't know that regionalism is any better than sexism or racism in the election of Bishops. I would hope we could find ways to work with people from a variety of places. Perhaps we should start working now on building relationships with people from the southern part of the jurisdiction that we can work with in future years.