What an amazing experience! Friends, God’s Spirit is moving among us. I’ve been attending Annual Conferences for many years now, and I would rank our recent experience among the best. As a clergy person, Annual Conference is my home church … a kind of homecoming experience for clergy and lay alike. As a member of the Susquehanna Conference, I am a part of a God-given missional enterprise to make a difference in the world. It is the community through which I am connected to God in Christ and to my sisters and brothers of the faith by a very unique covenant relationship.
Each year as I watch fellow colleagues retire and new colleagues share in the covenant of ordination I am reminded of the tremendous gift it is to be a part of this great church. It is, simply put, a privilege to share in the ministry alongside the continuing procession of faithful saints, both clergy and lay, who through their lives and their covenants have modeled discipleship along the journey.
I celebrate the sense of hope and joy those attending this Annual Conference experienced as we worshipped, prayed, heard reports, contemplated how we can reach young adults, and were nurtured through preaching and Bible study. We proved again our missional spirit as we responded to the three major offerings with generous giving by our local churches and Conference members, and accepted the plan for funding ministry for 2015.
One of the marvelous blessings I experience as a part of the full Cabinet is to be a part of the laying on of hands during ordination. It is awesome. This year in particular, I was moved to tears as I witnessed the glowing face of each ordinand as Bishop Park empowered them to “take thou authority” to preach and teach, lead, order, and transform the lives of all who will follow Christ. The presence of God’s anointing was clearly visible right before our eyes as the words were spoken. Our future church is in good hands. Thanks be to God!
Although many are quick to point out troubles within and without of the United Methodist Church, this Annual Conference Session made me realize again that this church of ours, or should I say this church of Jesus Christ, is bigger than any one of us … of any one issue, concern, viewpoint, theological perspective, or perceived truth. It’s not about me … not about you … not about who is right and who may be wrong … it is about Christ … and Christ crucified and risen. One body, of which we are all a part, to become for the world in this year of 2014 the living, breathing, walking, transforming, loving, and grace-offering body of the risen Lord. If that’s not worth celebrating, what is?
Leaving the auditorium after packing up all of our materials and belongings, I was asked by a college staff person how everything went. I jokingly responded, ‘It went so well I think we’ll do it again next year!’ God willing, let it be so.
Grace & Peace!