In the United Methodist Church, there is an annual business meeting which takes place each summer. This is no regular business meeting. We are reminded that the UMC is a global movement of the Holy Spirit where cultures gather for teaching, reporting, fellowship, and dreaming. And Oh, the worship!
We celebrate the joys of outreach. We learn of the necessity of extension ministries, who they are, what they do. We hear the debates of how the denomination will face hunger, homelessness, and health issues in our own backyard and beyond. And Oh, the worship!
We ordain those called to be clergy as local pastors, deacons, and elders at the beginning of their professional lives. We celebrate the memory of those who have gone on to Glory at their ending. We debate resolutions and vote on amendments that will direct our denomination morally, socially, and financially. We hear multiple two-minute speeches from those retiring from the itineracy, but never the ministry. And Oh, the worship!
We hug the necks of those who are part of our stories: colleagues and ministry partners from whom we have moved, and those who have moved from us. We have table-life conversations over meals and in the hallways about staff needs, positions open, and personal crises where we are invited to pray for one another. We share ideas for campaigns, books, and themes. We chat by connecting on Twitter, Facebook, and post pics on Instagram. And Oh, the worship!
This year we began a new tradition of gathering to honor those engaged in ministry with children at a “Heroes Eat Dessert First” reception hosted by the KidMin heroes of Athens First UMC and the North Georgia Children’s Ministry Connection. A time of connection, fellowship, and dessert with those who are KidMin interns, those in the trenches today, and even those who retired ‘a while back’, but as we all know, never stop sharing their gifts and graces with the children and families at the local church they now call ‘home’.
One of these heroes believes so much in the power of this connection, she drove her church’s bus and provided transportation for Children’s Ministry Network groups from two districts, interns, and even the children’s caregivers provided for the Annual Conference so to join in the Heroes reception. Back at midnight, she got up early the next morning for her last day at Hero Day Camp she is providing her local church. She is a true crusader for little people, but also her colleagues and those just starting out in ministry with children.
This is the business of our church. For every clergy person, there is to be a lay person as a delegate. Many districts have open spots for laity called ‘at-large delegates’ that are never filled. I am an at-large delegate for my district. We need you. Future dates of North Georgia’s Annual Conference are June 10-14, 2018 and June 9-14, 2019. I encourage the KidMin heroes of North Georgia to call their district office (here’s the link to find out which one), and offer to be an at-large delegate next year. There is much we can do together, to know the resources available to the local church, and join in the conversation of the business of North Georgia.
Don’t plan your VBS or a summer camp that week! Instead, prayerfully consider being an at-large delegate at next year’s annual conference. Read more about the logistics here. Then, contact me. I’ve got some ideas of how we can share in this journey together because we are better together!
2 Timothy 2:15 Common English Bible (CEB)
Make an effort to present yourself to God as a tried-and-true worker, who doesn’t need to be ashamed but is one who interprets the message of truth correctly.