Tuesday, June 03, 2008

annual conference

The Western North Carolina Conference begins tomorrow, although I have been involved in some preparations yesterday and today, and there is a dinner tonight. It is nice to get here prior to the big gathering itself. Lake Junaluska, which I love, is really not sufficient in size to contain our gathering---once every ten years or so a petition comes along to move the conference---such a petition will come this year; but I like the mountain setting, and there is something about the ritual events that take place here: my ordinations, my wife's ordinations, the consecrations of bishops in the southeast, our older daughter's baptism here. Add to that the gift of a cool mountain breeze early in June---contrasted with meeting in a civic center or a hotel in a big city---and I am happy to be here.

Three of our staff have milestones this week, all of them clergywomen--Tara will be ordained elder, Teresa will be commissioned as probationary deacon, and Marcia will be licensed as a local pastor. A former senior pastor of our church, Larry, will be remembered in the memorial service. Having chaired the committee on the episcopacy the last four years, we will say goodbye and thank you to our Bishop, Lawrence, who is retiring. Our conference secretary, Denny, is also retiring; I worked with him on an almost daily basis when I chaired the board of ordained ministry. So it will be a time filled with important events, each of which means something to me personally.

Apart from all of that, I often describe annual conference as one-third business meeting, one-third worship and preaching, and one-third family reunion. I hope to see former church members, and seminary friends, and others with whom I cross paths each year during these few days.

At the same time, there are several persons back home about whom I am in prayer: a family crisis, a health crisis, someone who would love to be here, but health does not permit. Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayers.

Finally, I picked up my friend Tom Currie's new book, The Joy of Ministry (Westminster John Knox). He is heavily influenced by Dostoyevsky and Barth, which, from my perspective is all to the good, and he has walked the walk, having served as a parish pastor for twenty-five years. If you need to get in touch with joy and its necessary and fundamental relation to ministry, go and get this book. Today! As Bob Tuttle would say, "I have just done you a big favor!"

I may blog later in the week. The connections to the internet in the mountains are somewhat tenuous, but who knows?

Thanks for stopping by...


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