Conferencing is a part of our United Methodist practice initiated by the Rev. John Wesley, founder of Methodism. It is a key element of the design for our connectional ministry. The Conferencing practice continued at the first gathering at St George’s Church in Philadelphia (www.umc.org) in the newly forming colonies in July 1773 and they were named – “Conversations”.
I enjoy conversations, especially when they reflect the holiness of the Spirit in each person and in the gathering. Such conversations bring out the best in us and help us to thrive as we keep our focus on Jesus who said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).
The primary responsibility of the church conference in the annual meeting (2016 BOD, par 247) is to review and evaluate the total mission and ministry of the local church. We do this through receiving key reports and adopting ministry plans as recommended by the Church Council which reflect the faith values and objectives of the UMC. This practice reflects accountability which encourages and aligns us to keep our focus upon Christ’s Great Commission — to make disciples (Matthew 28:16).
Ask your pastor when your annual church conference is scheduled for this October or November. Be present to participate in our practice of conferencing as we are in conversation together seeking to fulfill Christ’s call in our own lives and in our connection as the Body.