It was about half an hour into the session before we realised something in the room had changed. There was a constant low buzz of voices, punctuated by soft, polite laughter. There was concentration on delegates’ faces as they leaned across the circular tables to better hear speakers. There were smiles, and soft hand gestures.
Ordination Dialogue Group (ODG) co-chair Pastor James Haak was smiling. ‘We’ve done about five dialogues now, and this part is always the same’, he said.
If you couldn’t be at Convention, it’s possible that all you heard was the ballot result. But delegates, who had listened deeply to each other and prayed together, heard something else … the pain, the fear, the grief, of a brother or sister.
‘First, delegates pair up, and each gets to describe their own journey with the ordination question. Then they share their partner’s story with the rest of the people at their table.
‘This session is empowering. To share tell the story of someone whom they may not agree with, but have been asked to understand … it means that delegates can no longer view the other as the enemy. Instead, they come to see each other as a brother or a sister in Christ.’
At the end of the day, as delegates gathered again in the light of the Christ candle, we prayed once more that the his light would shine in this place, that his love would come to life here, where 420-plus delegates are tackling a difficult conversation, in his name.