I'm not particularly politically savvy. I am usually AWARE of politics, as they swirl around me. I'm usually too involved in lives, that I don't get too concerned with politics. After all, Jesus never went to the Roman Senate to push his political agenda, but healed the sick, forgave sins and pushed repentance.
Recently, I've been involved with a conversation at Shane's Wesley Blog. Shane is conservative, but his articles usually spark interesting conversations. One recently rubbed me the wrong way -- a discussion that started with Shane's opinions about a UMC pastor being appointed to Planned Parenthood. I have opinions about that -- I have opinions about abortion and more. But what struck me was what Paulo Fiore would call the "null curriculum" -- and the fact that, for the most part, women were silent for the conversation. Which did indeed rub me the wrong way.
Comments were made with the initals "RCRC" thrown about. I didn't know what "RCRC" was. I googled and decided against "The Regional Council of Rural Counties," "Royal Chester Rowing Club," "Radio Control Repair Centre," and "Redlands Christian Reformed Church" and decided that RCRC stood for The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. I didn't know what this organization is -- the postings referred to things at General Conference -- and I discovered it *isn't* a caucus.
But I wondered -- what other things exist -- What is a caucus within the UMC?
According to UMC.org a caucus is A group of persons who have joined together to devise policies and positions appropriate to the concerns of the group and who jointly act to advocate for that group and to influence larger entities to respond to their requests and respond to their issues. In The United Methodist Church, a number of caucuses have been formed both denomination-wide and in the Annual Conference. These are unofficial bodies in that they have not been established through action by the General Conference or the Annual Conference and are not accountable to those bodies. Among the oldest and most prominent caucuses are the four which have formed to relate to the issues and concerns of four racial and ethnic groups in America: Black Methodists for Church Renewal (BMCR), Methodists Associated Representing the Cause of Hispanic Americans (MARCHA), Native American International Caucus (NAIC), and National Federation of Asian American United Methodists (NFAAUM).
What ARE the different caucuses that float around in the UMC? Now to name a few:
Pacific Islander National Caucus of United Methodists
Black Methodists for Church Renewal
The Confessing Movement
United Methodist Gay Caucus
United Methodist Hispanic American Caucus
Native American International Caucus
UM Women's Caucus
Reconciling Ministries Network
Methodist Federation for Social Action
The Caucus on the Rights of a Child
Methodist Associated to Represent the Cause of Hispanic Americans
Association of Physically Challenged Ministers
Vietnamese National Caucus
Vietnam Vet National Caucus
And so on.
I understand there is a list on pages 198-201 in the UM directory, which I do not possess. I would love to see the complete list.
Only those that represent ethnic groups sit at the Connectional Table with the chairmen of comissions and whatnot.
Each represents special interest groups that exist within United Methodism -- none represent a majority. Caucuses began in 1968 with the Black Methodist caucus, who felt they were lost within the connection at the dissolution of the Central conference.
Each represent a different "null curriculum" -- voices that are so faint within Methodism, that they join together in order to be heard. Question: Do we defer to them almost too much? Are these caucuses causing so much division within our denomination that we cannot see ourselves as united? Have some of these outlived their usefulness? Who tracks these in the denomination?
I found out they are listed officially in the UM Directory -- that's what Infosearch says, so I ordered one. I'll keep you up dated.