I am a United Methodist Conference junkie. I love the debate and worship, interaction and holy conferencing. I love getting up to the microphone to speak. I love friendly amendments and the crazy insane process… at its best. I know there are times when it gets out of control and is painful and frustrating. There are times I probably have forced myself to forget because they were too ugly. But I’m a metho-nerd and I’m sticking with it.
This Iowa Annual Conference was very different for me, however. As the coordinator for Imagine No Malaria, I had a booth to run and shirts to sell and a District Giving Challenge to coordinate. I ran back and forth between my seat and the booth and the treasurer’s office. I sometimes forgot to eat. I helped put together a last minute silent auction and touched hundreds of dollar bills and got to stand in front of the body of our Iowa Annual Conference and testify about why I am saving lives… and they should, too.
It was an amazing weekend. We raised over $100, 000 in gifts and pledges. Churches were inspired and energized. Everywhere I looked, I saw green and brown INM shirts dotting the crowd. We had 38 individuals pledge their commitment to save lives… some giving $10 month, some $100!
But I did miss some of what I love about our conference. I “missed” all the debate on resolutions, only to find out most got tabled u til next year. I was present for about 10 minutes of the hours of budget presentation, questions, and debate ( ha… but I did manage to sneak a question in!). I missed three worship services… which I’m hoping to catch via the recordings. Above all, I missed the fellowship of time with colleagues and friends, long lunch breaks and late night conversations. I didn’t have time to go out and I was too exhausted for the after hours camaraderie.
The one legislative discussion I did make sure I was fully present for was our strategic priorities conversations and then legislative perfection. After working for countless hours on listening, reading, writing, responding, revising, we brought a document to the conference and prayed with all of our hearts that God would move us to embrace some clear priorities for our future. And when it finally came time to vote, after a number of friendly amendments, we overwhelmingly approved the vision, mission, and priorities. Now, we need to commit to living them out in every way possible.