Wednesday, May 20, 2009

FIrst Day of Annual Conference

Last night, the clergy session met to do the business surrounding the clergy of the annual conference. In that session, our student pastor, Christopher Eshelman was officially voted as a provisional/probationary member of the annual conference. We honored our retiring members and remembered those pastors who had died in the last year. In the midst of the business, we are really dealing with human beings and their call and their ministry and their lives.

Today began the official business of the Kansas West Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. The Reverend Amy Lippoldt, the pastor of Woodland United Methodist Church preached on “the HIP crowd.” HIP stands for the Hospitality Industry Personnel. These are the persons who wait on us in restaurants, in stores, at hotels and any person working in customer service. And yet, is not the church the original hospitality industry? She invited us to look at why we are hospitable. “Is it only to get more people in the pews or more money in the plate? If it is, our hospitality is a cheap charade. We should be the ones the world thinks of when they hear the word hospitality.”

As a person who believes that hospitality is at the heart of ministry and theology, I was challenged to ponder what it would look like if I lived a more hospitable life. What if I looked upon each person I meet as Christ. In the words of a grandmother, to say in my heart, “The Christ in me greets the Christ in thee.” From those powerful words, we moved to the sacrament of Holy Communion.

We finished the morning with some business. Particularly we looked at the new campaign, “RETHINK CHURCH”. I think this will be a wonderful tool for us at West Heights as we plan to reach out to our neighborhood and invite persons to experience God’s love and grace.

Annual Conference is always part worship, part education, part reports and business agenda, resolutions and family reunion. I have seen people from every church I have ever served and caught up with old friends and new ones. Tomorrow will be full with evening worship being ordination and commissioning. I look forward seeing some of you here to celebrate with Christopher as he is commissioned as a provisional member of the annual conference.

As always I am,
Graced to Serve.


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