Annual Conference is upon us and I hope we have part revival, part business, and all holy conferencing. I love Annual Conference! Now, of course, there are moments when things get tedious at best, and I’m on a short leash by being parliamentarian. As age progresses the restroom breaks become very much anticipated! I’ve thought about wearing sunglasses this year because the glare from the stage lights creates a haze after a day or so. I bet many people think the same thing about the glare off of my bald head.
This is an important conference for me. My middle child, Josh, is going to be commissioned Sunday night. That’s an incredible milestone on his way to ordination. He’s exhibiting such marvelous gifts for ministry at Bethel in Rock Hill. He and his wife Karen are a blessing in so many ways!
This conference is also important because of the Constitutional Amendments that we will be voting on on Monday. If you know me well, my passion with these surrounds the 23 worldwide UMC amendments. If they are passed we could see connectionalism go down the drain, and a regionalistic diocesan polity take over. Wesley’s words, “The world is my parish!” would be changed to “my neighborhood.” Sure, our neighborhood is our parish, but if we are to truly be global Christians, we cannot fragment who we are into regions that dispose of our unity.
I hope I don’t have to speak on this issue because parliamentarians are supposed to be impartial and not speak, or even vote by voice or show of hand. Nevertheless, this issue is too important to not speak. We’ll see. This isn’t about conservative or liberal – it’s about our ecclesiology; i.e., Connectionalism. I look forward to seeing how it all shakes out.
My favorite thing about Annual Conference is renewal of relationships. When one gives their life tothe ministry their church membership is literally transferred to the Annual Conference. It is my local church, and I love the fellowship with laity and clergy as we get to see each other, sing, hear good preaching, and make those all-important decisions that will shape our life together for years to come. See you Sunday!