Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Moderator and the Towel

Dan West was 72 years old in 1965 when he was elected to serve as Moderator of the 1966 Annual Conference - a Conference that would become controversial and adversarial because of the debate on whether to become participants in the Consultation on Church Union.

At the opening session of the 1966 Annual Conference, Dan stood and held a towel high above his head as a symbol of order. The towel was a symbol of service, patience, and holding one another in love.

The gesture was not surprising for Dan was loved and known throughout the denomination as a peacemaker, a relief worker, and a good discussion leader. The towel represented Dan's way of working with people more appropriately than did a gavel.

However, before the conference had ended it became necessary to invoke the authority of the gavel and Robert's Rules of Order. Though Dan attempted desperately hard to be fair and to allow everyone who wished to speak, as he had done in working with small groups throughout his lifetime of service to the church, Dan's methods created some disorder among the 1,183 delegates.

Source: Passing on the Gift, Glee Yoder