General Conference is a gathering of rules and a desire for order. It is one that votes in either/or. There are yes or no votes. There are few times when there are more than two options. It is a place that is ripe with opportunities for misunderstanding and misrepresentation. These are not malicious opportunities, it is just the way the General Conference is set up. Because it is a body that values accomplishing something, the focus is on “ends”.
When petitions come forward, there seems to be a level of suspicion of “what is the end game to this petition?” Because there is such distrust among the body, there is a cloud that hangs over the body that showers down doubt and even more mistrust. Rather than assuming petitions are submitted in good faith, the general conference body seems to assume that petitions are crafted to hide their true intentions which have a nefarious ends.
The reality is that one of the things that marks the Church from other organizations is that in the Church our means are the ends. Other organizations places priority on the ends, what is accomplished, what is completed, what is the bottom line. There are ethical boundaries that guide many in the business world, however “at the end of the day” there is a desire to meet the goal, achieve the goal, arrive at a place, and meet the projections.
The reality is that the Church is one that proclaims that God came in Jesus Christ. To put it another way, Christianity is one that affirms that the means are the ends. How God does what God does is what God does. How we do what we do is what we do. Few will know much of the decisions that are made, but what will be remembered is the actions that are taken. The means we take is the end that people will “know” about the Church.
We can say all that we want that we are a loving people and desire for reconciliation. However nice our creeds are, it is our actions that are branded in the minds of the world. Christianity is seen as a hypocritical and “anti” organization by many outside the church.
When we confuse the ends as primary, we will take any means to achieve them. Let us not forget that our means are the end.