So for those of you that read my blog who are not United Methodist, let me explain. Annual Conference is a gathering of all the pastors and lay leaders from every church within a specific regional area (called a Conference). At AC we do the "business of the Conference", celebrate (aka hear reports on) the year's ministries, have grand worship services, vote on delegates for the global General Conference and resolutions for the local, conference, or global church, ordain new clergy and essentially just get together for the sake of getting together. It is super life-giving and also crazy exhausting. Completing an Annual Conference feels like an accomplishment every year.
I am a member of the Central Texas Conference and we have our AC in June. So I feel like I JUST got done with one of these. And then last Wednesday the Sierra Leone AC began. And it turns out that it is just about exactly the same. Here's some of the things that were just the same:
- The afternoon lull
- Confusion around voting
- Everything takes longer than planned
- I get ants in my pants about an hour in and feel the need to pace the back of the room
- Trying to walk somewhere with someone who's been in the conference for a while takes five times as long as it should because they have to say hello to every person they haven't seen since last AC.
- Bringing greetings (although the Sierra Leoneans take that to a WHOLE new level)
- Chaos around who lines up where in the processional (they line up by date of ordination here, which was super cool!)
- LONG days
- An ordination service that moves me to my soul
Some of the stuff that was different:
- Hundreds of people marching into insane city traffic to open annual conference
- Representatives from a nearby AC who ask probing questions, make comparisons, and give praise/constructive criticism on the conference floor
- Different groups have different colors and uniforms for different things
- Women's Night, Youth and Young Adult Night, and a Children's talent show!
- No place to drive thru for coffee or a dang sonic diet coke
- Livestock that is brought to the church parking lot as a gift to the bishop
But don't take my word for it...check it out yourself: