This week the Annual Conference of the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church will be gathering in Lakeland. What a mouthful huh? We boil it down to just Annual Conference. For anyone that may be unfamiliar with Annual Conference, this is the one time that we gather as a Conference to conduct business, set goals, fellowship, and celebrate victories. Every clergy that is a member of the Florida Conference is required to attend, whether they are appointed to a church in Florida, an extension ministry in Florida, or anywhere across the globe. In fact, if you cannot attend you must explain your absence to the Bishop and seek approval. Each church in the Florida Conference is also entitled to send lay delegates, with the number dependent on the size of the church. For our congregation, we are entitled to one delegate and this year that is Carole Newlin. Therefore, this is a very important time in the life of the church. But what makes this year unique, is that we will have a new presiding Bishop for the first time in a decade. I am very grateful for the wonderful community Bishop Whitaker created and lead during his time with us and I wish him a wonderful retirement. However, I am also very excited to see what Bishop Ken Carter will bring to our Conference and our DNA.
One of the exciting things we will continue this year at Annual Conference is participating in a mission project. The year we are partnering with the agency, Stop Hunger Now. This mission of Stop Hunger Now is “to end hunger in our lifetime by providing food and life-saving aid to the world's most vulnerable and by creating a global commitment to mobilize the necessary resources.” There will be meal packaging stations setup at Annual Conference and the goal is to package 100,000 meals with volunteers on Wednesday and Thursday before the business sessions begin. This is just a part of the Florida Conference goal to pack 1,000,000 meals during this calendar year.
As you can see, this gathering is more than just business, it is exploring how we can be a better church, a more faithful church. With that in mind, I ask for your prayers. As Carole and I represent Druid Hills, and as other clergy and laity the Conference over represent their churches, pray for us all. Pray for the Holy Spirit to move within us, pray that we will follow God’s direction, and all the events and decisions made will enable us to continue building God’s Kingdom here on earth.
Have a great week and I will see you Sunday!