Mark’s Musings – Family

by | Jun 19, 2018 | South District Webpage, Featured-News, South District Newsletter

In just a couple of weeks my wife and I will be flying to Michigan to see family and friends. It has been over three years since the last time we were in Michigan. Even though I don’t make it back up north very often, these relationships are very important to me. I love being part of my family! The distance, and time, does not take away my feelings for these people. My family is a big part of my identity.

Last night I drove home from another family reunion that we call Annual Conference. I have to admit that I arrived home very tired. I took a five hour nap, got up for two hours, then went to bed. It was a very busy week! Although Annual Conference didn’t start until Thursday, I went up early for meetings that happen in advance of Annual Conference. The work of Annual Conference is important, but the part that I treasure the most is seeing all of the people. I think that my love for this Conference is magnified because I’m an adopted pastor into our Conference. I was ordained in the Texas Conference, served for a number of years in the Alaska Conference, and then transferred fourteen years ago into the Desert Southwest Conference. I was looking for a conference to call home, and I found one.

I have been a Methodist my entire life, and a United Methodist pastor for thirty years. Being a United Methodist Christian is a huge part of my identity. It took me awhile to recognize just how much I love my United Methodist family. My love is not based on us always agreeing with each other, because we don’t. I love how God has brought us together, and connected us to each other. God has placed us in a position to do more together than we can do apart.

When I meet someone who has the same last name as I do, we almost always try to figure out if we are related to each other. When I meet another United Methodist, I know right away that we are connected to each other.

Coming home from Annual Conference, my wife and I stopped for lunch in Casa Grande. One of the ladies working in the restaurant wanted to know if I was returning from Annual Conference. We didn’t know each other, but she saw the cross and flame on my shirt. She then asked what church I was a part of. She looked a bit surprised when I told her that I’m the South District Superintendent. I think, though, that she missed it when I identified my district. I had to run back into the restaurant to wash my hands (I tried eating some melted chocolate that was in my car) and saw her talking to another woman. She said: “That’s him!” The other woman turned out to be the secretary of her church. The secretary knew that their D.S. was a woman, and wondered who I was. I heard her say “mystery solved” as I left. Even though this was the first time that we met, we already had a connection.

The high-point for me this week was our ordination service. This is the moment every year that I feel the most connected. I absolutely love getting to process into this service with the other clergy of our Conference. As we were lined up to process in, the clergy were clapping in unison to the processional hymn. In the hallway the clapping was thunderous!

Witnessing the ordinations of our new Deacons and Elders transports me back to experiencing again my ordinations. I was ordained in the time where we were first ordained as a Deacon, then later ordained as an Elder. I was ordained a Deacon by Bishop Benjamin Oliphant, and an Elder by Bishop J. Woodrow Hearn. In my experience, Bishops have the heaviest hands when they are ordaining! I feel especially honored that I have also been able to lay hands on some of our ordinands, both as the Chair of the Order of Elders and most recently as a District Superintendent.

I don’t know what the future of the United Methodist Church is going to bring, but I do know that this is a family that has changed my life. I feel very fortunate to be a part of the United Methodist Church.

Your brother on the journey, Mark


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Author: Mark Conrad

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