I’ve spent the last three days at the South Carolina United Methodist Annual Conference as a Lay Delegate. When I heard that the position was open due to someone else who could not go, I jumped at the opportunity because I love governance and learning structures that build up the body and keep people working together. I was elected at a recent Charge conference at our local church to serve and I went with only a small amount of knowledge of what exactly would be done. I knew I would be voting on things: Especially on Health and Pension, a proposal to restructure the Connectional Ministry of the Conference and a report on Finance. I watched the training videos, read the preconference materials and headed to Florence, SC.
So what exactly have we done in the first three days? I’m glad to tell you that it has been incredibly packed full of business, preaching, worship and much else.
Each day flows a bit like this:
(1) Early morning worship with communion.
(2) Beginning of Business Session with a Vote on Who will be Delegates to General and Jurisdictional Conferences.
(3) A report on some ministry, board, or entity of the church which we approve by lifting hands.
(4) Perhaps a resolution is presented or a motion is presented and debated pro and con by the “House”.
(5) We vote again (being elected requires 50% of the votes) so votes are taken again and again until elections fill spots.
(6) We have lunch with the people we have met or know at the Annual Conference (or do a work lunch at Starbucks 😉
(7) Return for more business as above.
(8) Leadership Training – A pastor has been asked to speak on UMC Leadership (excellent speeches)
(10) Return for Worship Service (Praise Music: Traditional, African American, Youth Band, etc.), Preaching and an offering.
(11) One last vote – then dismissed to go home.
The Laity and the Clergy vote separately but at the same time on their delegates, and we (the laity aka non-clergy) have almost finished voting. A fellow Saint Andrew By-The-Sea UMC member and friend Jeanie was elected today to Jurisdictional Conference and she was quite excited.
In all honesty – I am loving every minute of the Annual Conference. Even the tedious moments are important because they give people voice and a sense that they are able to enact change and at the very least try to convince others towards a position or a movement. I am personally impressed by the Bishop’s ease of control of the House with hundreds and hundreds of very diverse people. The Robert’s Rules are order us well and the man in charge seems to know the rules well. It keeps things moving along. My favorite debate centered around Immigration and how we treat people who come to United Methodist Churches. Though I don’t agree with everyone who came to the mic, I feel we received a different part of the picture and were able to vote on it. We actually went to casting paper ballots because the house was so evenly situated on either side of the issue. These things energize me. Governance is a beautiful thing when done well.
More as we go along. I’m glad to be here.