You know you are back in the Mid-west when the fruit salad has those tiny marshmallows in it. Besides which, they are fresh, not like the rocky pellets in my kitchen cabinet which are awaiting next winter’s cocoa. I had barely piled a second spoonful of the mixture on my plate at the Central College dining hall, when the town fire sirens went off like a backdrop for an Edward R. Murrow broadcast from WWII London. The cafeteria shift manager came swiftly walking by, loudly announcing, “We have a tornado warning, folks! Everyone needs to leave things right where they are and we must head to the basement.” And so we did; stated clerks and chaplains, early-arriving delegates, the girls’ basketball campers and cafeteria staff all herded down the outside steps to spend the better part of the next hour standing, sitting and conversing amidst stacks of glassware, racks of Pepsi and the veins of the building’s air conditioning and electrical systems. In this manner, GS 2007 has been welcomed to Pella for its annual clambake. As for me, I think it was all staged in an attempt to show that, rather than the RCA spiraling downward as certain naysayers would have it, it was really on the brink of spiraling upward, toward the heavens. But, in the accustomed fashion these days, nothing actually got off the ground.
For those who look for signs and omens, this must already be one of the most exciting Synods in years. What does it mean that GS 2007 was almost wiped from the face of the earth even before it started? Or for that matter, what does it portend that it escaped such a fate? Could it have been anything less than the fingers of God’s own hand reaching down to rake the fields of nearby Knoxville, easing the winds away from the sacred campgrounds? It’s a form of theologizing that benefits from ample retrospection.
We were treated to some brief hail, but the reports were that lightning was striking when the chair of the MSTF spoke with the stated clerks. Several folks reported that they could see not even one of the clerks in support of R-13 & 14. Many felt that their questions raised in the session were not answered and even barely acknowledged. There was an objection to the summary of the recommendations and of the overtures which had been prepared and distributed to the delegates; that it was overly-directive on which way to vote.
Of course, what we need to keep in mind is that the pre-Synod meetings are comprised of either insiders—members of Commissions, agencies—or outsiders—institutional chaplains, stated clerks—and not the actual people whose votes will be counted on Monday. We will start to get to them at Friday morning breakfast when delegates from the 3 East Coast synods meet. The big machine of the denominational staff and officers has also yet to rev up, which it will do with the addresses and Our Call reports all day Friday. So while the early indications are hopeful, we have yet to see what trends and counter-trends will be forthcoming.
I would add a caution to Al’s observation that MSTF may be set aside, which I feel is too early to predict. This morning we had a good briefing of the delegates from the 3 regional synods and folks do “get it”. But the delegates need support to get up and “say it” at the floor mikes Monday and in the discussion groups Saturday afternoon. As I have urged you before, get on the delegates’ cell phones and urge them to speak their minds. Even at a distance, you can have an impact.