For those that attended the General Conference, what were your thoughts??? : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

For those that attended the General Conference, what were your thoughts? It was my 4th General Conference. I was absolutely shocked but so please when Sara Francis Davis and Carolyn Tyler Guitry were elected. I was also very happy that Rev. James Wade won Director of Church Growth and Development. He has been on the evangelism battlefield for over 30 years. The youth revivals sponsored by the RAYC were very, very, very well attended by youth, young adults and adults alike and was very tastefully done. The Debutant Master Ceremony was overflowing with debs and masters. Everything was very well done. Some new attendees were irritated by the election and the seemingly disorganized business sessions, but I had to explain to them that prior to electronic voting, the voting process sometimes took 24-36 hours; the fact that all of the voting was complete within 7-7 1/2 hours was a miracle (SMILE). The music/choirs were fabulous, but them I am biased because my husband and I sang in the choirs about 5 out of the 7 days of the general conference. Bishop John Hurst Adams preaching was by far theologically sound and "solid" at the concecration of the Bishops. Overall, it was a life-changing event. One can see more inclusivity developing in the AME church, particularly with the election of two women and three indigenous Bishops. What are your thoughts, or were you all at home in front of your lap-tops? God bless!

-- Anonymous, July 07, 2004


What happened with the proposed legislation? Was the restructuring of the Tenth District accepted? Was Oklahoma moved into the 10th District? Was New Mexico moved into the 10th District? Any other legislation?

-- Anonymous, July 07, 2004

The Young Adult Revival was right on time. After all the point of information, clarification, personal privilege, friendly amendments and substitute motions, it fulfilled my need to praise the God of all creation. I was reunited with so many friends from the various AME churches I have been associated with during my travels. To Bill and the rest of you "haters", GenCon reminded me of how wonderful this zion can be. God is very much a part of this church. But go ahead and keep on "hatin" God is doing a new thing, and if you don't change your approach you might just miss it.

-- Anonymous, July 08, 2004

I attended the last 4 days of General Conference as an Observer, my first one, and I must say it was an overwhelming experience. I can only imagine how the delegates and alternates must have felt as the conference ended!

I did learn much about how decisions are made particular to the discipline and the highlight for me was the elections. I was thrilled that 2 women were elected and it was wonderful to experience the humble acceptance speeches from the African Bishops.

I am a Licentiate in the 5th District and I was going into the process feeling some fear and trepidation about where the denomination was going and how that would trickle down to the local church. I am not real clear about the vision for the future but I feel better having experienced the company of other AME folks from all over. It was a good feeling!


-- Anonymous, July 08, 2004

Bro. Harold opines -

"To Bill and the rest of you "haters", GenCon reminded me of how wonderful this zion can be. God is very much a part of this church. But go ahead and keep on "hatin" God is doing a new thing, and if you don't change your approach you might just miss it."

Just exactly how am I now a "hater"? Do you have prima facie evidence where I have exhibited hate and contempt to you, anyone on this BB or the AMEC? If so, please produce it for all to see, if not I would expect a forthcoming public apology for this reckless remark. Your meandering missive is yet another unprovoked, senseless and mean-spirited comment aimed at trying to besmrich my character and reputation. It's interesting how you invoke God's name while simultaneously engaging in such reckless communication. Your "holier- than-attitude" implying that somehow I am in need of a change (but not you) to witness God's new thing is completely Pharissaic in tone and delivery. Is this the type of example that Jesus desires of His disciples? It's simply amazing at how you can return from GenCon and proceed to engage in unproductive attacks as oppossed to fulfilling the Law of Christ. QED

-- Anonymous, July 08, 2004

The Genereal Conference was excellent. Jerry Turner lead the RAYC masterfully. Bishops Larry Kirkland and John Hurst Adams gave powerful insightful sermons: "For Better of for Worse" and "Old wine in new skins" respectively. The fourth district was awesome in their ministering through song and music. The business sessions were long but, the all the bills were actually addressed. The longest night was the election of General officers and Bishops. It was a close race a little sad when Rev. Brown from New Orleans struggled with quiting vs. staying in. In the end he was not elected. The campaigners were creative in their slogans and chants.

If possible everyone should attend at least one General Conference all the way through to appreciate the polity of our Zion. It was good to see brothers and sisters across the connection whom I have not seen in years. When Keery annoucned his running mate the auditorium was quite full. I was an observer one day I would'nt mind being a delegate to help pass meaningful laws that will help our Church.

For those who didn't make it. I hope to see you next time! Peace.

-- Anonymous, July 08, 2004


I don't think Harolds comment(s) were posted because I don't remember seeing them.

-- Anonymous, July 08, 2004

Bill Dickens:

Please accept my heartfelt apologies if you think I have misinterpreted your constant negative criticism of our zion as "hatin" and thereby labeled incorrectly as a "hater."

I know that my meandering four line missive must have touched a strong nerve in your body because it produced an eight line response. Yes I am tired of this denomination being criticized over this and over that. I was particularly irked by your post that criticized those attending GenCon for not commenting on legislation when the bulk was not passed until late Tuesday evening.

I am sure that you have a great zeal for God and perhaps for some of God's people but frankly your pompous, pious, mean-spirited behavior over the last few months is tiresome. So just as you say whatever you wish, and do whatever you wish, and call wherever you wish, I unfortunately took a page from your book and posted whatever I wished.

Thank you for allowing me to see that this behavior is truly ungodly and unworthy of my "holier than thou, Pharisee type attitude and demeanor.

Thus I stand in the public square crying out "Lord, have mercy on me for I am a sinner. Lord, have mercy on me and forgive my sin of arrogance and criticism against those who wallow in the pit of despair." And Lord as I ask you to forgive my sin against my brother your son Professor Dickens I further ask that you allow his righteous heart to accept it.

Hallelujah AMEN

-- Anonymous, July 08, 2004

My Brothers Bill and Harold,

I've enjoyed reading both of your comments on various topics on this board. However, can the both of you disagree without being disagreeable? I sense a developing (or already developed) bad spirit between the two of you. I don't think Christ would be pleased with such attitudes. If I'm wrong then I stand corrected. But let's not let the root of bitterness spring up within us and harden our hearts towards one another.

-- Anonymous, July 09, 2004

Bro. Harold -

While I can do without certain language in the third paragraph of your recent response, I nonetheless embrace and accept your mea culpa. I have been a constructive social/cultural critic for 25+ years in both the Progressive National Baptist Church and the AMEC. Our Zion is far from perfect but I remain a member because I support the 8 point Mission Statement and the AMEC's untapped potential to do a great work for God and humanity. Kirk is quite right, it is time to move on. QED

-- Anonymous, July 09, 2004

I hope that this does not rub the wrong way or begin a barrage of attacks against me but inquiring minds want to know.....


I am a lifetime A.M.E. 5th Generation actually and I am very well educated. I am working on my doctoral thesis now. My parents are well educated and most of my family. I have a diverse group of friends many of whom are well educated also, but none of the people that I know speak this way. I watch CSPAN and attend seminars but I just don't hear this type of language in great use.

It's almost Elizabethan :-) and so belittling and condescending. a church member turned me on to this Board to read about what's going on in the Church and at GenConf but frankly I have read nothing but insults to the point of character assasination. This is primarily some of the ilk that produces a reduction in church attendance. Folks are tired of being beat over the head with intellecutal snobbery and one-upisms (I know, not a word)

gentlemen, if this is the language and style that you use to evangelize or connect with other Lay folk, I can't imagine what tje results are. That's why people are drawn to these guys like Jakes, Long, Dollar and the lot because they have that common touch. yes some of it is emotionalism but they speak a language that is very basic and common.

I haven't been on the board for long but folks LIGHTEN UP! we're all in this together. we can either hang together or hang together. (bad paraphrase but you get the point)

-- Anonymous, July 09, 2004

"...That's why people are drawn to these guys like Jakes, Long, Dollar and the lot because they have that common touch. yes some of it is emotionalism but they speak a language that is very basic and common..."

Ms. Harris-Waters, I am also a 4th or 5th generation AME as well. I am also highly educated as you are, yet I beg to differ with you. One of the reasons why so many people are drawn to Jakes, Long, Dollar and many many others that I could name but it would take up too many characters---and are drawn away from the AME church has less to do with "intellectual verbal snobbery" as you insinuate, but it has more to do with the fact that these people are not beat over the head with assessments, and if monies are raised, then they see how their funds are being spent. Also, people are attracted to Jakes, Dollar, Long, Patterson and others because they do not have to deal with the hierarchy of the AME church and much of the favoritism and nepotism that permeates are Zion, but that is a whole other posting. Feel free to shoot darts and bullets. I have been a part of this system long enough to "love" it, yet constructively criticize it like Bill, and strive to make change, like Bill Dickens. God bless you all. You too, Brother Dickens (SMILE).

-- Anonymous, July 09, 2004

Let us read Luke 16:50 and Phillipians 2:3. If at all possible, can we put a stop to this ugly discussion and move on with a discussion of General Conference? I was unable to attend and I have a lot of questions and thoughts regarding the 2004 G-Con.

-- Anonymous, July 09, 2004

I will only comment on the voting process which continues to be problematic. The other events were wonderful, especially Sunday Worship Service.

"General Conference Electronic Voting"

As they say, there is good news and there is bad news. The good news is that the voting did not take the 6 hours or so that it used to. The bad news is that the current system which they have had 4 years to test and get ready for 2004, was HORRIBLE. In 2000, the new electronic voting was introduced. As in any system roll out there were some problems. The process called for voting via keypads, printing out the results for the Bishop and then displays the results. Folks were kind of suspicious at that sequence. However, the results were displayed within a reasonable amount of time. This year, did not go very smoothly. I am sure that the systems people in attendance knew that this was not the best of packages or that it was not adequately tested.

There has always been concern about the time that results are given. In the “old days” there were charges that the results were being tampered with. One story says that a candidate in a past GC according to results received NO votes. She took the floor to say she voted for herself so she should have at least one vote. With this history, real or perceived tampering, come the delays in the reporting this year.

There was a lot of time wasted in getting the answer to how the number needed for election was calculated. Even the technicians were confused. People had suggestions from the floor on how best to do it but the floor is no place to design programs.

For those not there, let me briefly tell you how the voting was done. Each candidate was assigned a number, and you voted by punching the number of the person you were voting for on the keypad and pressing “enter”. Votes entered before or after the 30 sec clock were not tallied. There was one page of the ballot for each number to be elected. If there were 2 to be elected the ballot page was projected 2 times. Each time you voted for the person of your choice. It was designed to prevent voting for the same person more than once. For the American Bishop election, there were 5 to be elected. The ballot projected five times, 30 seconds to vote. At the end of voting, the computer tallied the votes, the technicians printed (yes, printed) a hard copy and passed it to the Bishop who then okayed displaying the results. The problem arose when it took so long for the results to be displayed after the vote. One excuse was that the printer jammed. Another was that the computer can only do 42 entries at a time but on the second ballot there were less that that and it to as long if not longer. People were gathering around the Technician table trying to see what was happening but the Bishops ordered then away from the area. In fairness, they might have been interfering with the technicians but this contributes to conspiracy theories. The possibilities of tampering abound when a technology that is supposed to be instantaneous takes so long. A conspirator might hint that that was plenty of time to download results to another computer somewhere, tamper with results, and then display new numbers. I hope that we had a “performance” clause in the contract for the voting system. We do not know what specs they were given but either the specs or the design was faulty. We have plenty of lay people in our Zion that could be used as consultants or advisors on this type of project. Maybe by 2008, we can have a voting system that can be above all suspicion. This year only added to the doubt. Bob McCain

-- Anonymous, July 09, 2004

Thank you so much for the information Brother McCain. I have some questions. How many delegates were there? Also, who was in charge of the voting system? By this I mean the persons responsible for implementation, testing, etc.? Thanks.

-- Anonymous, July 09, 2004

This is not a criticism or a rebuttal of what Bro. McCain felt about the voting process.

In my view, the problem stemmed from the delegates not understanding the voting mechanism. We had extensive debate and discussion about how to use the machine. I was surprised we had this debate given that we had discussed it several times in the days preceding the election.

If you were slow of mind, or afraid of the apparatus as were some of the delegates I encountered were and you failed to get vote within 30 seconds your vote was not counted. If you voted twice for a candidate your second vote was ignored.

I really do not believe that the system was horrible, but perhaps the GenCon Commission might send delegates more information in the next quadrennial so that they might be better prepared to use whatever mechanism is available.

The printed paper copy was not a requirement of the system but a rule adopted on an amendment from the floor during the report of the rules committee. It was a layer of bureaucracy that was unnecessary and should be abandoned in the future.

I thought that showing the number of votes cast and the number to elect was outstanding work on the part of the technicians because it was not part of the original request.

Overall I would give the election commission an "A-" I would admonish the delegation to listen to the younger delegates when it comes to mathematical formulas because the youth delegates around me had no problem understanding the calculations but some of the older (40 and over) delegates were very confused.

Also the delegates should not do a lot of campaigning when an election is underway. I saw many delegates running to vote when the time came because they were away from their delegations deal making.

-- Anonymous, July 09, 2004

Delegates "campaigning" during the election has been going on since the beginning of time. However, that activity should be banned. Districts should not pay over 1994 delegates to attend the general conference to serve as politicians; there were plenty of alternates and observers in attendance who could have served that purpose. God bless.

-- Anonymous, July 09, 2004

Brother Gibson:

Who makes up the Election Commission? What are their qualifications? Thanks.

-- Anonymous, July 09, 2004

Sister Sheila asks -


Well, befitting my last name (and all the British connotations), greetings and introductions are first in order. Welcome to the AME Today BB. I trust you will feel free to offer creative and thoughtful posts. Secondly, I have been a member of the AMEC since 1994 and reside in the 11th District (FL). I'm not quite sure though I understand your question. I don't think no one on this BB has a problem with my prose, if so it hasn't been brought to my attention. My intellectual upbringing in rural northeast NC and inner-city Wash DC emphasized the necessity of thinking and writing logically and not being intimidated to ask probing questions regardless of the perceived "contorversy". I will be more than glad to clarify anything I may have written. I have been writing, researching and debating in the field of economics for over 20 years. The same way I interact with members of this BB is the same way I interact with my academic colleagues. As the late comic genius Flip Wilson once opined, "What you see is what you get". Or, as my fellow scribes in the academy say, "I think, therefore I am" :-) QED

-- Anonymous, July 09, 2004

It would be nice if we could get back to the orginal intent of the post which was to discuss the experience of the General Conference by those that attended. All this other side stuff is too frustrating. Can we hear from folks who attended? I'd like to know how the experience was for you.

God bless!


-- Anonymous, July 09, 2004


That is an excellent question. I wish I knew the answer. I also have a question, does anyone know of persons dropped from the General Board for this quadrennial? How did the election or selection process work in your district?

-- Anonymous, July 09, 2004

The episcopal committee is composed of four people from each district: two ministers, one lay, and one youth lay.

And Sis. Shelia, while I am just meeting Bro. Gibson rfecently on this board, the record will attest that the manner in which Prof. Dickens writes has been consistent sicne his initial contributions in February, 2000. You may view some of these ancient posts on the "uncategorized" link on the Discussion main page. Everything suitable since the board was opened in 1998 is there.

Rev. Payne tells me there were 1994 official delegates. Dr. Messiah appears to have been elected clearly on the first ballot.

-- Anonymous, July 09, 2004

Please excuse the delay in my response to the question. I was truly exahusted from the experience as well as the trip back home.

The 2004 General Conference was my first, both as an attendee as well as a delegate. Overall it it was a historic occassion as well as a very positive experience that I was truly proud to be a part of. The move to greater inclusion for the African Church was exciting and probably the highlight of the entire Conference. I am extremely proud of the members of the ADC and especially the Bishops who served in Africa the past four years who guided the process and carried the Agenda to the Conference with great skill. This was only a begining to be sure, but it was a very IMPORTANT begining that had vitually unaminious support from the close to 2000 delegates including yours truly.

I am proud also, that I got to be a part of seeing two very capable and competent women elected to the Episcopal Bench. I took special delight that the action of the General Conference in this regard proved so many "experts" on our Zion who were certin that they had their finger on the pulse of the church, ABSOLUTELY WRONG. Hopefully this will mark the end of gender consideration as it relates to leadership in the AME Church.

I was honored also, to have been part of the Legislative process. This was also perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the Conference for me as it was ANYTHING but effecient. While, because of time, we left some excellent and much needed legislation on the table, we DID manage to adopt close to thirty very good bills that will make a positive impact on the life of our Church. At the same time also managed to avoid some clearly self serving and questionable bills that would have been a step back for the Church as a whole and for that I am grateful.

In closing, I am very happy to report that I did not see any of the extreme behavior on the floor that many told me would cause me to leave the General Conference more cynical and jaded about the AME Church than when I arrived. No fist name payoffs or other graft ( at least that I saw at and I was watching pretty carefully).

All and All, this very important and historic General Conference made this naturalized (as opposed to native) Son of the Church of Allen VERY, VERY PROUD to be an AME. I am grateful and honored to have had the opprtunity to be a part of it.

Yours in the Joy of Jesus,

Pastor Mike Barta

-- Anonymous, July 10, 2004

Bro Gibson said: "In my view, the problem stemmed from the delegates not understanding the voting mechanism. We had extensive debate and discussion about how to use the machine" Bro Gibson, I would agree with you had not the election of General Officers had not gone so smoothly. Same voting keypads as with the Bishop Ballots. The only difference was the number of votes to cast. The problem was not the voting but the reporting of the results and the extraordinary amount of time for that to happen. The delgates had been using the keypads throughout the Conference. Granted most votes may have been simple "yes" or "no" votes but there was indeed some confusion. My recollection is that in 2000, it was not much of a delay.

My point is it would have eliminated a lot of questions had the voting system had been improved over the 4 years. It is expected that a voting system be as instantanious as possible. What we were given should not be acceptable.

-- Anonymous, July 11, 2004

Moderation questions? read the FAQ