Earlier this month, I received an email from a member of the Methodist Church in India who is feeling a call to ministry. This person is currently attending seminary at a seminary in the United States. It was great to get this email which included a few clear questions about the annual conference in the United States in general, not any specific annual conference:
- Is the annual conference in the United States fulfilling its purpose?
- How can it be made an ideal annual conference?
- How could it be improved?
In the United Methodist Church, the annual conference is an organization of pastors, laity and congregations, you can find a definition here.
Before I could respond to this question, I had to remind myself of the purpose of the Annual Conference. The United Methodist Book of Discipline in paragraph 601 states:
“The purpose of the annual conference is to make disciples for Jesus Christ by equipping its local churches for ministry and by providing a connection for ministry beyond the local church; all to the glory of God.”
In this statement there is a dual purpose for the annual conference – to equip local churches for ministry and to provide a connection for ministry beyond the local church. Over the next few days I will do my best to respond to the question of the annual conference fulfilling its purpose in these areas and offer some thoughts for improvement.
I recognize that I have limited experience in annual conferences and may not be the most qualified to respond to these questions. However, I hope that my responses will prove somewhat helpful and that others will be able to add to the conversation through comments.