I am the new lay delegate for Grace and I am really excited about going to Annual Conference this week. It’s an honor to represent my church family. I realize that most of our congregation has only a vague idea of what Annual Conference is and what goes on there, so I have decided to blog about my experiences and try to give all of you a snapshot of what happens there.
Annual Conference is basically a yearly legislative meeting for the United Methodist churches in Kansas and Nebraska. Other conferences have their own version. During this time, clergy (pastors) and laity (volunteer church members) gather to hear updates on the work of the church, learn about issues that affect local churches, and vote on a wide range of topics, from health insurance and the location of conference offices to our Conference’s stance on social issues. Each day of Annual Conference includes special speakers, meetings, legislative information and action, and worship. There are also times to socialize.
For pastors, Annual Conference is also a sort of family reunion. They have the chance to visit with friends and colleagues they may not see at any other time. Growing up as a “Preacher’s Kid”, I often spent time at Annual Conference with my family. It was always a fun adventure adventure, a place where everyone understood the joys and stresses of pastor’s lives. When I was in high school I was a member of the Conference Youth Council, which also meant that I attended Annual Conference as a voting member. I loved being a part of the greater church and making my own church connections.
Annual Conference was an integral part of my life as a child and a youth and now I have the honor of serving there as an adult. I know that much has changed in the 27 years since I last went to Annual Conference. Back then, the Conference included only the western 2/3 of Kansas (Winfield was the very eastern edge) and the yearly meetings were almost always in Salina. Now our Conference includes all of Kansas and Nebraska and the yearly meeting moves to various cities, with Grand Island, Nebraska hosting this year. The basic process of Annual Conference is still the same, though, and I expect it will all still feel familiar. I know I will see lots of old friends, including faces that were once a part of Grace. I hope to post pictures and daily updates while I am at Annual Conference so that all of you can see what Lora and I are doing there.
Please pray for Pastor Lora, for me, and for the United Methodist Church this week. We do not take our responsibilities to all of you lightly. May we make the best decisions for all of us.