It’s been a few weeks since the North Georgia Annual Conference. For those that were in attendance, and for those curious, I thought I would take the weekly email opportunity to share the significant things that happened this year.
First off, there were several churches and pastors that went through the process of disaffiliation with the Annual Conference. The mood was somber when this happened. It did not feel like anyone was taking a stand against anything or any hint of celebration, but more like a breakup that we all saw coming. Breakups are never easy, especially the longer two parties are together, so I feel that this is going to consistently happen over the next several years at Annual Conference.
The other two significant things that happened are that our own District Superintendent, Rev. Byron Thomas, has been nominated as our conference’s episcopal candidate. It was a surprise to me that a jurisdictional conference is going to be held this fall with the sole purpose of electing bishops, which gives us at least another year with him! Byron is a good friend and mentor and will do a wonderful job for the greater church. The other significant event is that the Annual Conference approved the purchase of land to build a new United Methodist Conference Center. This new structure will be scaled down from our current space, based on need, and will be in College Park, GA, next to the current College Park United Methodist Church. I’m excited there will be such a strong Methodist presence in the area.
The worship services were also particularly meaningful, as we had not gathered and heard one another’s voices in song for three years. I’m glad we remembered what one another looked like! In light of this, and other things that have happened in the United Methodist Church, my plan is to teach a one-room Sunday School class this fall. This will be a combination of lecture and Town Hall format, for people to ask questions and get clarity on how exactly we got to this point, and where we go from here. I may expand this to more small groups coming out of these sessions who wish to continue the conversation.
Sometimes, people wonder what it means to be United Methodist, and how it benefits our church. I don’t think we tell the story enough about how collectively the work of our church has an impact on the world, through the United Methodist Committee on Relief, the General Board of Global Missions, or even locally for things such as Camp Glisson and Hope Atlanta. Even more personally, I was raised in the United Methodist Church, went to a United Methodist College on a scholarship funded by United Methodists. I did the same for Seminary at Candler School of Theology, where one church particularly in Florida covered my school expenses. I then gained my ordination and experience from United Methodists of all kinds, giving me a diverse viewpoint. I think we need to tell that story more; that if we zoom out the camera lens from our perspective, we will see how we are a part of a lot going on in God’s Kingdom. I really look forward to these conversations.