Sunday, June 14, 2009

western north carolina annual conference highlights

A highly personal and subjective reflection on our annual conference:

1. Bishop Goodpaster was efficient and inspiring in his leadership of this, his first conference with us. The trains ran on time. He gave us a vision, 300K members, 30k new worshippers, 3k volunteer in mission teams, 300 remissioned churches, 30 new churches. It is a great vision, and I think, given the right equipping, our conference can reach this goal.

2. A really astonishing ordination service, and here I am speaking of a spontaneous invitation to those present to come forward and explore the call to full-time Christian service. A significant number of persons came forward and I watched in awe as an African-American woman stood and gave thanks to God for someone in her family who had walked forward. This was clearly an answer to prayer.

3. The Bishop led us in a prayer of repentance for our loss of members. Again, a very fitting act of ministry. I have often felt that we needed to do this, at General Conference, every four years.

4. A very biblical and theological sermon by Edgardo Colon-Emeric of Duke Divinity School, in English and Spanish. I also appreciated Michael Williams, whose sermons were in the story-telling vein. Edgardo was linear, Williams non-linear.

5. Reconnecting with many close friends. I cannot overestimate how important this is to me.

6. The 50th birthday party of a friend, and the commissioning of another friend.

7. Eating with some of our church members at Clyde's and Duvalls. Two places in Waynesville where the locals eat, good food at a good price. And my wife's sugar free "Shoney's" strawberry pie.

8. Walking around the lake (2.5 miles) each day.

9. Beginning to read The Eighth Day of Creation, a gift from my friend Clift Black, an elder in our conference who teaches at Princeton Seminary.

10. Leading a small portion of the presentation of the 32 amendments. I think 8 of them passed in our conference, with the worldwide amendments failing approximately 8-1.

11. An impromptu conversation with the husband of a clergywoman. She is a good friend but I had never met him. They are interesting in a number of respects, among them that their son plays in the NFL.

12. The memorial service; increasingly, these are persons I know quite well. One was the minister of visitation at the Mount Tabor Church, where I served from 1997-2003. He died in September. Another was one of the former senior pastors of Providence. And yet another was the wife of one of my mentors. The inclusion of the elders in this service was also moving.

Twelve seems to be a good place to conclude. Bishop Goodpaster appears to be both missional and evangelical, and that is our need, at the present time. I left Junaluska thankful for the days spent in conference, looking forward to the unfolding of the vision, and also deeply happy to begin a seventh year with the people of Providence UMC.


Blogger Talbot Davis said...

I was absent for some of the events you described, but for the time I was there, your words are spot on.

Leadership counts and so there was a feeling of optimism and confidence that hasn't been there in awhile.

8:24 AM  
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1:40 AM  

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