I received 4 votes in the very first clergy ballot for General Conference 2012. This was a pleasant surprise. I had not submitted a profile sheet to be considered. I wonder who voted for me, as I didn’t vote for myself… I did not receive any votes on subsequent ballots.
I very much appreciate video reporting from various groups. The story is able to be told well and can be used again for various reasons.
The Commission on Equitable Compensation report generated a good bit of conversation, which I found to be quite interesting. How does the annual conference best address gender inequity in clergy compensation?
I was proud of my Dad, receiving a Certificate of Merit from the Kansas Area United Methodist Rural Fellowship at their annual banquet. Later in the afternoon, he was elected as the first clergy delegate to General Conference 2012. Congratulations!
State of the Conference Report is one of my favorite times in Annual Conference. The Lay Leader and the Bishop tell the story of the past year and introduce new initiatives for the year ahead.
I am very excited for the release of http://vitalsignsumc.org. This is going to be fantastic! Church metrics and sharing stories can be very good.
It was a great day yesterday. I was ordained as an elder in the Kansas West Annual Conference at the Service of Commissioning and Ordination last night at the Bicentennial Center. We had a rehearsal at lunch time and got ready to go for the evening. After the afternoon plenary session, I went out to the car to pick up my robe and some slacks to replace my jeans. Dinner was with family and the others who were being ordained and commissioned courtesy of the catering team at the Bicentennial Center. Then to get ready for the service. Photos with family, the ordination class and the bishop came next. After the processional we moved through the service. A few of the meaningful experiences from the day:
Speaking on the phone with my sister, Kristin, from England first thing in the morning.
Sharing the evening meal at the table with my sister-in-law, Melissa.
A time of quiet just before the service to share a few moments with God in prayer.
Swinging my niece, Katie, walking in early to the arena.
Seeing the IT Director at Resurrection, Clif, livestream the service with his webcam.
Sensing the Holy Spirit upon me while Bishop Nhiwatiwa prayed before the elders were ordained.
Feeling the weight of hands on my head and shoulders while being ordained.
Looking into Bishop Jones’ face as he me commanded me to “Take thou authority…”
Having my stole placed over my head by my dad, Mark, followed by a powerful hug.
Linking fingers with my mom, Joyce, during the final hymn.
Sharing a conversation with my brother, Jonathan.
Hearing words of support and encouragement from aunts and uncles.
All the encouragement from social media from friends far and near.
Care and support from my wife, Nicole, throughout the day.
Yesterday I focused a lot of my energy around the covenant between the Kansas West and Zimbabwe East Annual Conferences. It was my responsibility to pull together the team that shared stories of the trip and presented the legislation. While not speaking, I probably got more anxious than was strictly necessary trying to corral the effort. It went great. Wonderful stories and testimonies shared, excellent video production, good discussion from the floor and in the end a unanimous approval. Following the presentation was the Taste of Zimbabwe dinner. I cooked up some of the vegetables over lunch break during conference and served sadza and rice during the meal. Bishop Nhiwatiwa spoke just the right amount and was encouraging, insightful and funny. I have found his words meaningful every time that he has addressed a group of which I have been a part.
A few other highlights from yesterday:
Starting off the day with a presentation of Godspell
Responding to Wesley’s historic questions in front of the annual conference along with the others to be ordained tonight.
Hearing the stories of the retirees in their own words at the retirement service last night. Especially, my Aunt Karen Osterman Fieser as she retired from over 25 years as a chaplain at Wesley Medical Center.
Meaningful conversations with various colleagues throughout the day.
Last night was the clergy session of the Kansas West Annual Conference. My name was raised under the following questions:
31. Who are elected as members in full connection? b) Elders
33. Who are elected for ordination as elders?
Along with 8 other elder and 2 deacon provisional members, I walked in to Mabee Arena at Kansas Wesleyan University. This was the first year that clergy session had been held at this location. All of the clergy were seated on the bleachers on one side of the arena with a table and podium set up on the court. Bishop Jones had us turn to face him, away from the clergy, while the votes were taken for each one of us. One vote as a member in full connection in the annual conference and one for ordination as elder. I remember looking up at the ventilation system, the empty folded up bleachers across the arena and glancing at Bishop Jones as he asked the clergy session to vote for my election. Then I heard, “He is elected.” I found out later from my Dad, that it was at 7:54 PM.
I was expecting the result of the vote to be affirmative. It wasn’t particularly overwhelming emotionally, however I do remember trying to soak in all the details of what I was seeing and hearing as I thought, “This is a marker point in my life.” It did feel good to turn around and see the clergy session applauding at the end of the election of all those to be ordained. I looked back and forth across the full bleachers as I wanted to look at everyone who was there, or at least in their general direction. I remember making eye contact with my Dad who was standing to applaud and wearing a brown United Methodist Shirt from Zimbabwe. Later in the clergy session, I remember looking at my Aunt Karen Fieser, who was retiring as she was voted on for retirement.
Later today is the presentation for the potential covenant partnership between the Kansas West and Zimbabwe East Annual Conferences. This evening is the Taste of Zimbabwe dinner. I am looking forward to both with a bit of anxiety and excitement.
Tonight is the clergy session of the Kansas West Annual Conference. This is where I hope to be elected as a full member of the Annual Conference and approved for Elder’s ordination. I decided to look up officially the process for which I will be ordained and want to share a few of the applicable paragraphs in the 2008 Book of Discipline.
“Questions relating to matters of ordination, character, and conference relations of clergy shall be the business of the clergy session. The actions of the clergy session shall be for and on behalf of the annual conference” (2008 Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church, ¶605.6).
“Provisional members who are candidates for full connection and ordination as elders and have been provisional members for at least two years may be admitted into membership in full connection in an annual conference and approved for elder’s ordination by two-thirds vote of the clergy members in full connection of the annual conference, upon recommendation by two-thirds vote of the Board of Ordained Ministry…” (2008 Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church, ¶335).
I have already been recommended by the Board of Ordained Ministry, so am looking to the vote of the clergy session to move forward.
The annual conference season has begun in The United Methodist Church. This week I will be attending the Kansas West Annual Conference in Salina, Kansas. I hope to post each day this week about annual conference.
According the the 2008 Book of Discipline ¶601, “The purpose of the annual conference is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world by equipping its local churches for ministry and by providing a connection for ministry beyond the local church; all to the glory of God.”
I hope and pray that this gathering of the annual conference will be a means to accomplishing this purpose. Do you believe that your annual conference, Kansas West or elsewhere, fulfills this purpose?
PS – #kswumc is a Twitter hashtag for the annual conference. You can follow live updates from the conference by searching for that text at twitter.com.
As much as I have tried to explain in text what the trip to Zimbabwe was like, there is nothing like photos and locations to see what it was like. I created a log of our trip on Google Earth (http://earth.google.com/) which you can download below. You can “fly” to each of the locations that we visited day by day. In addition, I have uploaded all of the photos which I took to Flickr. You can browse them day by day with the link below. Please feel free to share and enjoy.
I was deeply encouraged by learning about the concept of chabadza. This is a custom of the Shona people of Zimbabwe in which a traveler stops to help anyone whom they pass as they are going on their way. If I am traveling from village to village and see someone working in their field, I will stop to help, even just for a few strokes of a hoe. Then a conversation may start in which I may find directions from the worker and the worker may pass along a message for someone in the next village. It is a mutually beneficial partnership.
Chabadza means that someone is working in the field and a passer by works alongside in the same field with the same goal.
I believe that this is a healthy understanding of partnership and is an excellent model for partnerships between annual conferences.
One of the first sites that we visited in Zimbabwe was a revival at Prospect United Methodist Church. We walked into some of the most passionate worship that I have experienced. In the singing, preaching, dancing and response it was clear that the Holy Spirit was active. While I did not understand the language of some of the songs, I was clearly able to worship God.
It was refreshing.
I was also struck by the commitment to discipleship. 80% to 90% of the people who attended worship on the weekend were also active in a small group, which was called a section. When I commented that it would be fantastic if there there were 50% of a worshipping congregation also in a small group in the United States, my comment did not seem to make sense. The response was, wasn’t that how Wesley designed the class meeting? so that people could grow in their faith? This is the way to do that.
Nicole and I are flying tomorrow to Zimbabwe. I will be away from internet access for a while and will take a break from blogging in the interim. I am looking forward to sharing more after our return from the trip on February 9. Will you please pray for safety, health, God’s vision and direction for us while we are away?