We wrapped up Annual Conference today in The Woodlands, Texas (a little north of Houston). I’ve plenty of thoughts rolling around in my head, but will journal more of it than blog it. Much needs time to ruminate in order to work it all out, or at least make a serious beginning at doing so. That said, here’s some of my thoughts about the conference and about “highlights” therein.
- This conference was once again SO much better than the days of reading the reports already written in the pre-conference journal. Not only did it drag on and on back in the day, it had little or no discernable strategic focus for mission and ministry. We may have some boring reports that we have to deal with, but not nearly as much and some things just have to be done–we can accept that.
- Related, I am thankful that our bishop, Janice Riggle Huie, is a leader rather than a manager. We need managers and the question they ask. But without leaders, we can be quite easily managed into institutional and bureaucratic oblivion without ever noticing people who are living the mission and thriving in spite of the institution rather than because of it. We have too much of that story in our past. We are getting leadership now. Hopefully that will mean more stories of fruit and faithfulness arising from what we are doing as a Conference rather than in spite of it.
- The preaching/teaching was great. Our theme this year was “Risk-taking mission & service.” My two favorites just laid into us something fierce and made it hurt so good: Peter Storey of Duke Divinity School and Velosia Kibe of Windsor Villiage UMC in Houston. Both of them took the Annual Conference to task on how true, authentic risk-taking mission and service are basic to the Christian gospel (a little more on that in future posts). They challenged us to prophetic preaching/teaching and prophetic ministry and living.
- Fellowship!!!! It is always wonderful to see friends and colleagues and spend time visiting and hanging with one another. Also, it’s a great place to see church members from churches I’ve served previously.