"The lines we draw are invitations to cross over and that crossing over, as any nomadic subject knows, constitutes who we are." (Judith Butler)

General Conference 2012

And so it begins again…

Every four years, up to 1,000 United Methodist delegates from around the world come together for an intense period of worship and work. The quadrennial assembly, General Conference (coming up again in 2012), considers and votes on revisions to the polices of the church, as well as makes resolutions addressing contemporary religious, social, political, economic issues, etc.

Frankly, I love church conferencing… It is exhausting. Participants can be mean spirited. I’m fairly confident that people don’t know what is happening most of the time. It’s really not the church at is best. (To be fair, people can also be great, collaborative, and competent!) But it works for my brain, and I find it all to be exciting (and it’s important because that’s the system we have).

Also, I feel that I have a fairly strong grasp on issues facing the church, being active in the UMC at various levels. Through serving as the legislative chairperson for the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (which is a denominational agency charged with monitoring and advocating for the full and equitable participation of women at all levels of the church), I have gained some valuable insight into the legislative processes and the pertinent matters that will come before the General Conference in 2012.

So with a twisted fervor for church conferencing and skills and knowledge I think can be useful, I’ve decided to run to be a lay delegate. This means I’ve submitted a statement to the Iowa Annual Conference, the regional conference of which I’m a member, and we’ll be voting at Annual Conference in June to select seven lay and seven clergy delegates.

I’m sure I’ll have more to say as the time approaches (and after and for years to come), but for now, I thought I’d share my 250-word nomination statement:

As a young adult, nurtured from birth at First UMC in Coon Rapids, I believe passionately in the spirit of United Methodism to bring healing to an aching world. Thus, I seek to put my skills and energy for legislative work into service toward shaping the future of the UMC. I will encourage the Church in developing the flexibility to foster relevant, meaningful ways of being in ministry and fellowship with all people.

I am currently the legislative chairperson for the UMC’s General Commission on the Status and Role of Women. This leadership role has broadened my awareness of issues facing the global Church and prepares me to work collaboratively on complex legislation. One of our pressing challenges is maintaining a fair, vital worldwide structure. I will support efforts that empower peoples around the world, including the U.S., to carry out the most effective ministry in their specific contexts. Moreover, it will be essential to ensure that policies are in place enabling all people to flourish, assuring that the church values and upholds the most vulnerable in society.

Being a doctoral student of New Testament and Early Christianity at Harvard, I am committed to emulating the example of early followers of Jesus in wrestling with diverse, complicated questions while holding one another in love and faithfulness to the Gospel. The beliefs guiding my legislative work can be distilled in a simple Wesleyan measure: does it bring forth good fruits, manifesting biblical values such as mercy, truth, justice, righteousness, and love?

Tyler Schwaller General Conference Nomination

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