Soon the lay and clergy members of the North Texas Annual Conference will gather at First UMC Richardson for the 147th meeting of United Methodists in North Texas. Attending Annual Conference has been a yearly ritual for many of us, and we know what to expect.
For me, this will be the first time in 38 years of ministry that I will worship, learn, laugh and pray with another annual conference.
Bishop McKee will preach at the ordination and commissioning service at 7:00 PM, Monday, June 3, 2013.
In my first year in the North Texas Conference, everything will be new to me at these sessions. But with the changes for this year's session of Annual Conference, most everything will be new to all of us. Meeting in a church for all the sessions and a redesign for our time together presents an opportunity to recover the purpose of an Annual Conference.
With all that will be new about how we proceed with this year' in reality we will do our work together for the same reasons the early Methodist circuit riders met: to spread scriptural holiness through the land.
I am excited, and I pray that you are preparing to be a part of a new thing in North Texas. Let me share with you four reasons I enjoy Annual Conference:
The singing at Annual Conference inspires me. United Methodists are the best singers on the planet. Sometimes I listen to the rich blend of harmonies. The power of music and the voices lift my spirit every time. And this year's music promises to be the best.
The service of ordination serves as memory and promise for me. I remember my ordination and the weight of the hands placed on my head. Each year during the service, I privately renew my own vows of ordination and see the promise for future ministry that each person being ordained represents. This year, I am deeply humbled to have the joy and privilege to lead this service and ordain and commission deacons and elders, and support our new clergy. The fellowship of clergy and lay people enlivens me. This will be the first time I meet some of you, and I look forward to knowing more of you and hearing about your church and your story of faith. In some respects, Annual Conference is like a reunion: Let's come to renew friendships, knowing that our faith in Christ unites us.
I have a few uplifting unscripted plans to share. This first year has been such an amazing journey for me. The love, support and prayers from all of you have truly made the difference. God has poured out a unique vision for us to unite, serve God and serve others. I'll share that at several points during our time together.
Whether you are a lay member or a clergy member, will you imagine that the 147th meeting of the North Texas Annual Conference can renew your spirit and your ministry?
I look forward to being with you for this year's Annual Conference, June 2-4, 2013.