Who We Are and What We Do

Conference.

In the denomination in which I serve, we have conferences.  The term has come to include the work we do together and the actual people doing the work.  For some the work we do is catch up, reunite, share a bit of life together.  Others come with agendas and politics and legislation.  Some come for the lunch conversations.  Some come because it’s required.  Many come for worship and service.  Others surely come with a mixture of these reasons and expectations and responsibilities.

As I’m preparing to head to our Annual Conference, I’m thinking about all the folks that are coming.  They have packed their hopes and fears and grumbles and soon I will add my own and we will be the Conference.  More than that, we will be Church. Isn’t this what Church is?  People gathering and sharing their lives.  People coming together to express themselves.  To hear and be heard.  To seek and find God moving in our midst.  To dream and do and experience together.

I’ve understood for United Methodist clergy, our Conference is our church (we are appointed to serve local congregations, but our “membership” is held by the Conference), but I’m really just starting to see the parallels between the church I serve and the Conference I participate in.    For perhaps the first time, I am making the connection between the way folks come together in a local congregation and the way clergy and lay folk come together for Conference.

With this epiphany dancing through my spirit, I pray as I might for a weekly worship gathering…

I pray this Conference will be Spirit-filled and Spirit-led.
I pray those seeking God will find more than they imagined.
I pray our discussions are honest and helpful and transformational.
I pray we’ll make room at the table for all who hunger and thirst.
I pray we will remember for whom we gather.
I pray what we do inspires new leaders and encourages those who have served well.
I pray we find ourselves in uncomfortable positions, in dangerous waters, on shaking ground, so that we might turn to the One who can save us.
I pray we are the Church.

Life is better together,
Shawn

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