(Dawn Hare/GCSRW General Secretary) - I love to get packages! From my elementary days of collecting and sending in S & H Green Stamps to be redeemed for an aquarium, to gifts ordered from catalogs or websites as shopping evolved, to Amazon orders, I love the anticipation and the joy of receiving boxes filled with surprises, treats and goodies. Every box is like opening a Christmas present, even when you have to put on a happy face to be gracious when the contents are not exactly what you wanted or ordered.
Last month, I received such a box. This time the package was filled with the Advance Daily Christian Advocate (aka the ADCA) meaning that General Conference is fast approaching. I laughed and "arg-ed" as delegates across The UMC posted pictures on social media of the stack of books arriving at their doors. Although this year's version came early in an electronic version, there is truly nothing like reading, drawing on, attaching sticky notes to, and "dog-earing" a "hard-copy". During the first week of March, the GCSRW staff labored through reading, evaluating, and critiquing each piece of legislation. We were specifically looking to identify pieces of legislation that would affect women and girls in the Church.
There were several transformational moments during this work when we were invited to examine the words of a piece of legislation in a way different from our initial impression. We took the time to explain to one another where our interpretation was coming from and, if there was any history involved, what that history was. There was laughter; there was frustration; there was concern; and there was hopefulness. We were in a process of Christian conferencing where, although we did not always agree, we were always able to frame our concerns and even our suggestions of how proposals could be improved, for the benefit of the Church.
Just like there is always the Christmas present that you open, and say "thanks" without meaning it because it came from your aunt, everything in the ADCA came from a member of our family in Christ and in The UMC. What they have submitted may be something we don't understand or may be something that is difficult for us, but there is always room for graciousness and conversation. After all, grace is shown to us daily by the One for whom we labor.
Dawn Wiggins Hare is the General Secretary for the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women and is a delegate to General and Jurisdictional Conference from the Alabama-West Florida Conference.