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Editor’s note: The following letter is being distributed to the lay members to Annual Conference. Church leaders are encouraged to share the information and follow-up with lay members to Annual Conference to be sure they have the information.

Greetings!

On behalf of the Desert Southwest Conference Board of Laity, I’d like to welcome you as a Lay Member of our 2013 Annual Conference! If you’re a veteran, you’ll notice several changes this year. If this is your first time with us, I hope you’ll find a welcoming and fulfilling experience as we undertake the important business of our yearly gathering. As we share worship, fellowship, discussion, and food, you have an important role in determining the direction and ministries of The Desert Southwest Conference in the coming year.

A quick word for you first-timers… the Board of Laity has invited you to join us for our annual first-timers luncheon on Thursday, June 27th. You’ll have an opportunity to meet each other, share in a greeting from Bishop Bob Hoshibata and ask any questions that may be on your mind concerning Annual Conference. To be certain that you are included in the luncheon, you must fill out the First-Timers invitation in the on-line registration kit. This insures that we’ll have the right amount of food, so please take the time to register for the luncheon!

Among the changes this year will be the seating arrangements. We’ll be at round tables, which will facilitate getting to know each other and helping you to join in several periods of discussion that will be happening throughout Annual Conference. In addition, wireless access for computers, tablets and similar devices will be available in the meeting space. Bring your wireless device! The first opportunity for discussion will happen during the Laity Session on Thursday morning, when only Lay Members are present. We will have “table talk” covering three topics important to the life of congregations in our Conference. In order that everyone will have access to the work that we will accomplish and to the wisdom of the table groups, we’re going to do something very new and different! You will be asked to post the conclusions reached by the people at your table to an electronic bulletin board, which will be seen immediately by everyone present. This way, great ideas can be shared quickly and other table groups will be able to be inspired by or build on the input from their neighbors.

To make the electronic exchange of thought and spirit easy and manageable at the Annual Conference Laity session and throughout Annual Conference, lay people in particular are being asked by the Conference Lay Leader to establish a free Twitter account prior to Annual Conference visit http://desertsouthwestconference.org/twitter to learn more about how to use Twitter.

To make the electronic exchange of thought and spirit easy and manageable at the Annual Conference Laity session and throughout Annual Conference, lay people in particular are being asked by the Conference Lay Leader to establish a free Twitter account prior to Annual Conference visit http://desertsouthwestconference.org/twitter to learn more about how to use Twitter.

To make this electronic interchange possible, we’re asking that every Lay Member establish a free Twitter account prior to Annual Conference. If you already have and use Twitter, great! If you don’t, our Communications Team stands ready to help you get started right now! Just click on this link http://desertsouthwestconference.org/twitter and you’ll be on your way! There are detailed instructions for setting up your free account and for using Twitter for instant communications. We really need your help to make this experiment a success. Not only will everyone have instant access to what other tables are talking about, we’ll be able to collect and publish all of the input to Lay Members right after Annual Conference, as well as posting the information on the Conference web page so your congregation will be able to use it throughout the coming year.

Is this new and different? Yes! Are we taking a risk in our efforts to improve the usefulness of our communications at Annual Conference? Yes! Are we excited to be breaking new ground that will result in you being better-informed disciples and Lay Members? Yes! Please take the time to set up your Twitter account right away. You’ll be helping Desert Southwest to stay in touch throughout Arizona and southern Nevada and having fun at the same time!

A key point… Do you know that by going “paperless” at this Annual Conference, we’re saving about $20,000? Join the Twitter Team and help us improve our effectiveness in ministry as well as reducing our costs.

I look forward to seeing you in June!

Blessings,

Jim Nibbelink, Conference Lay Leader

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