Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Annual Conference Reflections 2010

So people of Grace, if you were wondering where your pastor was last week, well, I was attending Annual Conference in Springfield.
Annual Conference is the annual business meeting of The Missouri Conference of the United Methodist Church. We gather together to resource ministries, hear of the goings on of others and put forth a vision for the next year as laity and clergy. The Conference is made up of 1 clergy person and 1 lay person from each church/charge. And to compensate for the retired clergy, at large lay members come as well.
We spend the weekend in worship hearing sermons, listening to our leadership and committees, voting on new clergy and celebrating highly successful ministries.
I missed Annual Conference last year due to surgery. Yes, it's been a year.
I deeply enjoyed Annual Conference this year. It was full of great preaching, excellent and concise reports from our committees, a great clergy session with lots of new ordinands, informal and formal discussion times, lunches with great friends, new connections and time to rest.
Some have discussed making the weekend shorter due to cost and actual business to be done. Honestly, I used to be one of them. But this year I encountered a long time friend and colleague who mentioned that he needed the time away. Conference is not just a business meeting. It's a time to be inspired and recharge your batteries to be redeployed back into the local church. So thank you to our Conference leadership who put on a great weekend. Thanks to all who shared the Word with us. It's fine the way it is and hopefully will be just as great if not better next year. Go in peace and go with God.

Look below to see a better definition of Annual Conference-

An Annual Conference in the United Methodist Church is a regional body that governs much of the life of the "Connectional Church." Annual conferences are composed primarily of the clergy members and a lay member or members from each charge (a charge is one or more churches served by a minister under appointment by the bishop). Each conference is a geographical division. In general, the smaller states in the United States hold one conference each, while larger states often include two or more conferences. Several annual conferences are held in other nations as well.

The Annual Conference is the primary unit of denominational government. Regional groups of conferences make up the Jurisdictional Conferences, and the entire group of all annual conferences makes up the General Conference which meets every four years. Only the General Conference can speak officially for the church.

The Annual Conference is composed of an equal number of clergy and laity. Each charge conference elects as many lay members to the Annual Conference as they have ministers appointed to that charge. In most cases that is one. The Lay Member must be a Professing Member of the United Methodist Church. The Annual Conference also consists of a number of "at-large" members, the number of at-large members being the number necessary (after the members elected by charge conferences are seated) so that the laity and the clergy are equal in number. First seated among at-large members are lay persons holding certain lay positions or offices desiginated by the Discipline or by the Annual Conference itself. When there are multiple congregations in a charge conference, members from each congregation in that charge are encouraged to become at-large members.

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