The image of a river flowing through the stage design provided the appropriate backdrop to today’s business as the Representative Session of Conference turned from worship to business.
We were encouraged, by General Secretary Martyn Atkins, to recognise that “we sense we are a movement whose purposes under God are not yet over” - a church where holy risk-taking was definitely on the agenda.
So we turned to the plethora of issues that have to be dealt with.
Our six-year journey towards a new music resource for the church made a faltering step with the hope of those involved that we would all be singing from the same sheet by Thursday when more will have been done with it.
In one lovely moment one of the wider Church’s top hits - In Christ Alone - was described as “the hokey cokey hymn of the moment - it’s been in and out and in so often” because of the issues around one phrase where God’s wrath “is satisfied”. At the moment it’s in!
There was an illustration of how painful Conference decisions are as a discussion of the overall budget included the proposal that the Youth Participation Strategy would receive significantly less money and therefore would employ fewer people.
Perhaps tension was one of the watchwords today. What to do with ministers’ pensions had been a hot topic leading up to this week and a number of people had tuned in online to see what happened. After some jiggling with notices of motion and memorials it was agreed to tie the normal pension date to government legislation.
During the afternoon, we switched to a new way of working for Conference and moved into small groups to discuss issues around a research project into what’s being called “the missing generation”.
The groups gave everyone the chance to contribute in conversations and bring insight from their experience. Some people skived off - and even tweeted that they had - but it’s a method of conferring that works well and the group I was in felt affirmed and energised by the chance to contribute in ways that would be impossible if the issue was debated on the floor of Conference.
So, as a reflection on today, here is something:
We struggle in the tension
of a call to walk in faith;
this challenge to be servants,
built on God’s astounding grace.
We place our hopes and terrors
in the wounded hands of Christ
and set out on a journey
which demands we pay a price.
We know we cannot settle
when the call of Christ has come:
in desert and oasis
or when faith and joy are numb.
Our life as holy pilgrims
is patterned on the Son:
his bruised and staggered footsteps
mark the journey we must run.
Gareth Hill Copyright © GraceNotes Music 2010