This is Eric's wife, Sarah. I'm serving as a page at General Conference, and since Eric hasn't had time to sit down and write a post yet, I thought I'd fill you in on what's happened so far from the perspective of someone who's volunteering instead of voting.
Yesterday was the first official day of the meeting. There were all kinds of orientations going on during the day--for marshals and pages, for younger delegates, for racial and ethnic minority delegates, etc.--and the conference itself got underway with opening worship at 6pm. It was a great service, with Bishop Janice Huie (the president of the Council of Bishops--the UMC pope) giving a message about how the church needs hope--not marshmallowy hope that melts at the first sign of trouble, but real solid hope that takes us in a direction of growth. The music was led by Mark Miller, who did the music for the Wyoming Annual Conference a few years ago.
Then there were several things that needed to be done to get started. The delegates tested the wireless voting machines, discussed and adopted the rules for the conference proceedings, heard reports from the Commission on the General Conference Report and the Committee on Agenda, set the calendar for the conference, and participated in sensitivity training by the Committee on the Status and Role of Women (COSROW--but they really deal with more minorities than just women).
Since I was assigned as a runner yesterday evening, I was able to be on the floor while all of this was happening. I didn't think it'd be very exciting, since there wasn't anything huge to go over, but there were points where I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off--delivering notes to delegates and motions to the secretary of the conference. It was great!
Since I was running around, I didn't get to pay attention to all of what was said, but I did notice a couple of things. There were several discussions on different points of the rules of order,which I didn't expect! Also, the Committee on the Agenda (I believe that's the name of the committee--I'll fix it later if I'm wrong) recommended that the size of General Conference in the future be reduced to 600 delegates instead of 1,000. They feel like it would provide for better fellowship among the delegates, and they are concerned about the amount of money the church is spending on General Conference (this particular GC is costing the church over $6 million).
So, that's been my experience in a nutshell!
I have two links for you that I think you'll be interested in:
Bob Kolvik-Campbell's Blog - Bob is a Wyoming Conference pastor who's serving as a marshal at General Conference
Live Streaming Coverage of General Conference - here you can see what's going on as it happens...and maybe you'll see someone you know!
And thank you to those of you who are praying for General Conference--those prayers are needed!