This week is the yearly meeting of the New England Annual Conference. I have attended sessions of annual conferences since 1974. My annual conference experiences include Western PA, Troy, Maine and New England. Some of those sessions were deeply political and sometimes deeply divided. Others contained inspiring worship and times when the agenda was interrupted by the unexpected in-breaking of the Spirit. Some sessions were engaging and some boring. Some times the annual conference contained all of the above.
Personally I long for a time when annual conference sessions are short on business and long on inspiration. I’d love to see delegates go home empowered, equipped and excited. I dream of annual conference becoming a launching pad for new energy and ministry for the coming year.
Now some of this occurs in our current form of conferencing. I appreciate the dedication and hard work of all who make our gathering possible. I do not believe our gather is a waste of time (at least most of the time). Still I dream of something more.
With all this said I’d like to make some simple suggestions for annual conference attendees. I think these may enhance the entire experience.
Make a new friend, particularly someone from a setting different from your own.
- Learn something helpful for the ministry of your local church. Take advantage of the resources available in workshops, information tables and the people present from around New England.
- Talk with someone who has a strongly held opinion different from your own—really listen to them and seek to understand their thinking. Seek them out with the attitude of learning from them. You’ll be richer for it. Our churches will be healthier if we learn to listen to each other and treat people with respect. Remember each person present is a beloved child of God and a person of faith.
- Watch for Holy Spirit moments. You never know when the Spirit will break in.
If you are attending this upcoming session of the New England Annual Conference, I look forward to seeing you there. If not, please pray for us and pray for the church.