In the last two weeks I have been on the road. My spouse and I drove to Nashville, Tennessee for a continuing education event, then to Durham, North Carolina for an executive committee meeting for the General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligous Concerns. Then I was home for twenty four hours before coming to the Kansas West Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
The trip to Nashville fed my soul, the trip to Durham challenged my mind and the trip to Salina where I am as I write this reconnects me to my congregation, the annual conference. In the United Methodist Church, elders are not members of a local church, they are members of the annual conference.
Each year we gather to worship, to work, to ordain and to do business as a conference. While many things frustrate me, mostly I just enjoy seeing people. Folks from churches I have served before, other clergy I have not seen for a year delight me. Then there are the reminders of my commitment to God, my call that must answered, and my responsibility to my sisters and brothers of the conference.
Many things can be frustrating at conference. Someone is always complaining about worship, and honestly, I have been one of them. The building is too hot, or too cold. The food is mediocre, the prices too high. And yet.....it is the gathering of all these people, lay and clergy, visitors, old timers and new timers, that God uses to move this small portion of the church forward.
This year, I am working to be less critical and more appreciative of those who have spent hours and days and weeks preparing for this gathering. I am praying for a kinder spirit and a more open heart that I might here the still small voice of God. I am reconnecting with those I have not seen in a long time. Finally, I preparing myself to recommit to the call that was placed in me at annual conference those many years that I may once again be
Graced to Serve.