First I would like to thank you all for allowing me to be your delegate to Annual Conference.
This year (because the conference time was shortened) there was only one set of workshops. They were held on Thursday evening and all were put on by people working on New Places for New People. I chose the one put on by Winter (who you may know as Tiffany) Hamilton called Shared Streets STL. She is the young adult pastor at Manchester UMC but along with a lay member has started this ministry for young adults in South City where they both live. They meet in places like coffee houses, restaurants and bars. They have one time events, ongoing groups and short classes. They don't expect participants to join Manchester UMC but a few have.
After the workshop, I went at 9:00 p.m. to a meeting held at a local church put on by MO UMC Next, a group formed after General Conference. They presented their chosen slate of delegates to be voted on for the next General Conference and the next Jurisdictional Conference. Several of the nominees spoke.
On Friday morning, I arrived at the expo center at 7:00 a.m. to take part in a living rainbow. We gave out Skittles and prayer cards as the delegates arrived.
After registration the session opened with a worship service and communion followed by the Bishop's address. He called for healing in the church and looks at his period of time as a great adventure. He emphasized the three priorities of the conference - new missional leaders, new places for new people and pathway out of poverty. This year there were 52 new places for new people and 54 new church/school partnerships. This year's new goal is to get 100,000 new books in the hands of 100,000 children - not just dropping them off but giving them to them personally and getting to know who they are. These projects have received a big boost from the Steward Family Foundation, which is giving a $3 million gift over the next three years with $1 million going to each priority. David Steward, who is president of World Wide Technology, is a member of Salem UMC in Ladue.
Friday afternoon was filled with reports from various committee chairs and a learning keynote by Rev. Joe Daniels, Jr. from Washington, DC.
There was an all-conference BBQ dinner that night in honor of 200 years of conferencing in Missouri.
After dinner we had laity sessions by district followed by a meet and greet with the laity candidates for General and Jurisdictional Conferences.
Saturday morning began with more business. Amy Thompson, conference lay leader, gave her address.
There was a Puerto Rico update. Missouri sent one team every week to help out; 25% of the teams that went were from Missouri.
There was a vote on Resolution #1 - Action for inclusive ministry in the Missouri Annual Conference. This will provide $30,000 from the conference for grants to churches doing specific ministries to LGBT people
There were to be five speakers allowed on both sides of the issue, but it was suggested we just call for the question. It passed by voice vote with only a few "nays" coming from one part of the room, which was probably the Ozark district.
The memorial service was held, and then after lunch was the retirement service. Rev. Dr. Tom Frank, formerly of this church, was one of the retirees, but it didn't look like he was there. I asked one of the other retirees, and they said they didn't think he was there.
After a break we had the vote for the laity delegates to the conferences. We used voting devices, and the vote went rather quickly with all but one of the candidates from MO UMC Next's slate elected. The clergy voted in the evening, and apparently they voted even faster. The lay and clergy delegates are a very diverse group with several people of color, many women, one person who uses a wheelchair, two people under 30, and one out LGBT person. I had a kind of backhanded compliment. I was sitting with some young people while I was voting, and I kept being the first one finished. One of the young women said, "Look at her. Who says old people can't learn technology?" I said I just retired from a library where I had to know all kinds of technology.
Sunday morning started with an ordination service and then more business meetings followed by the sending off service with fixing of appointments. Rev. Diane will continue as our pastor, but we will have a new district superintendent, Rev. Robin Bell, as Rev. Londia Granger Wright is retiring in the fall.
After conference I stayed for a meeting of MO UMC Next about what the future holds. There will be an event August 12-13 at The Gathering, and hopefully some of us will attend. There will be a leadership institute in Kansas City September 25-27 as well.