What I Virtually Learned From General Conference

I hesitate writing this post.  I fear that 1) it might bring up actual General Conference issues and b) it is a waste of time since General Conference 2012 has officially Jumped the Shark (google it).

But alas I have many things that need to be said.  Fortunately for those reading, I’ll only say three of them here.

For those of you who don’t know, General Conference is something that happens in the United Methodist Church every four years.  People from all over the world get together to worship God and make decisions about the future of the UMC.

This year I got to watch the sessions and worship services online.  While I was watching it live, I could also go onto Twitter and, using the hashtag #2012, see the opinions of several thousand of my not-so-closest Twitter friends.

Now that we are all caught up, I’d like to voice my insight about watching GC2012 online.

1) Always think about what the streaming video will look like when you begin stage/altar design.  While the designs were beautiful and went nicely with the theme, some of them were confusing when we only got a small glimpse of them.  For example this cross:

…seems pretty stunning.  But when I saw it, all I could see was the corner of it and it was green.  It looked like the Jolly Green Giant was the next speaker waiting his turn. I kept wondering if the next topic was about environmental initiatives.  Of course it doesn’t take much for my mind to wander, but I wish I knew that this was what I was really supposed to be looking at.

2) Watching the feed and Twitter was addictive.  I found myself really missing it when I had to go somewhere. I was constantly checking Twitter on my smart phone so I could try to piece together what went on.  Another clergy and I would text each other if something happened, so that we didn’t miss anything.  Yet when the feed was turned off and twitter slowed down, I felt a bit let down.  I felt like I was part of a community until the media slowed down.  Something to think about for those of you using these things in churches.

3) The affirming voices need to speak up. I’m speaking “virtually” here.  I’m not sure how it was in person, but on Twitter there was a lot of negativity.  Every so often you would be able to follow a few people who would praise a speaker or a delegate (especially during worship) but it didn’t happen as often as one would hope.  GC2012 was supposed to be a celebration of who we are and where we are going.  We all know that there are problems in the church.  We all know it is hard to agree on the right direction at times. But its hard to fix these problems in 140 characters.  So speak up in praise of the delegates we sent there to do the job.  They need to hear that we are thankful.

I enjoyed my experience from my home office.  I feel like I now have a better understanding of how things work at General Conference.  And I’m also happy to know that the Jolly Green Giant is a United Methodist.

Until Everyone Hears,

1 Comment

  1. Cynthia Astle on May 29, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    Shannon, United Methodist Insight, um-insight.net, would like to reprint your blog post, "What I Virtually Learned from General Conference." Please replace at your convenience to one.scribe56@gmail.com. Thanks~

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