Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Why Annual Meetings are Better than Annual Conferences

Since we're still classified a "Mission" of the United Methodist Church, we don't have "Annual Conference." Instead, we have "Annual Meeting," which is supposed to do essentially the same kind of work. Pastors and laypeople gather together for worship, conferencing, prayer, and planning for the year ahead.

But there are some clear advantages to our Annual Meeting, rather than a Conference.

Here’s a few big ones:

1) The entire business of the Meeting, took a total of three hours, fifteen minutes. I’ve heard single reports read in Annual Conference that last longer than that!

2) No voting. That’s right. And even better, there was no lobbying. There wasn’t a single thing that we had to make a decision on that required raising hands, stirring debates, and charges of heresy.

3) Every single church had a voice. My favorite part of the Meeting was the time in which a delegate from each church come to the microphone and give a brief report on what God is doing in their congregation. There was a strict time limit of three minutes, but we heard some wonderful news in that time!

4) The focus was worship. African Christians simply know how to praise God. And we praised our way through the meeting – while people were coming to the podium, during short pauses, and in the two worship services we celebrated together.

5) No Cokesbury book table in the hallway to distract pastors. Everybody was present, and everybody remained attentive to what was happening.