Call me crazy, but I love Annual Conference. I can’t help it. I do not experience Annual Conference as a boring burden. Instead, I see it is as a chance to connect with something bigger than myself. In fact, Annual Conference is all about connection. It gathers us together as a church and keeps us connected. It connects us with the conferences of other areas. As the minutes of our conference are added to the archives, it connects us with all past and future conferences. It connects us with all other United Methodists and all other Christians as we make decisions that direct us in our mission as a church. From the perspective of connection, Annual Conference is pretty cool.
The coolest part of connecting at conference is connecting with people. It is great to get to mingle with friends that I have not seen in a while. I enjoy the chance to catch up and reconnect. I also get to meet new people and make new connections that will last a lifetime.
This is not just connecting with people that you could meet anywhere. It is more than that. There is something very special about connecting with this particular group of people. When I walk into the auditorium, I know that I am in a room filled with other pastors and church leaders. It is a special atmosphere. We are all there for a common reason: God has called us to a mission, and we gather to organize ourselves to continue that work. The men and women that gather at conference share a bond that goes beyond this world. It is wonderful to learn, worship, and conduct business as a part of that group of people.
Annual conference also connects us with our mission. We have fun and exciting business sessions where we make decisions about how we are going to move forward as a church. OK, I admit that they are not always inherently fun and exciting. It helps, though, to sit by the right people. While the issues at hand are to be taken seriously, it does not hurt to have light-hearted people around to help make it enjoyable. No matter how fun or boring an issue is to me, though, I know that there are real lives attached to every decision that we make at conference. It is our job to be representatives of Christ in each decision. These business sessions are an important part of connecting us to God’s mission as a church.
So, why do I love Annual Conference? For the connection, and all of the different ways that it allows us to connect to God and each other.
Our Annual Conference this year connected us to some great speakers. If you would like to see them, you can check out these videos. I highly encourage listening to Rev. Grace Imathiu. She is a great storyteller.