General Conference 2016: The Highs

Earlier today I wrote about my frustration with the General Conference 2016. I must give a more positive view as well.

GC 2016 was held in Portland at the Oregon Convention Center; the city is beautiful! My flights and hotel accommodations were excellent! and the people of Portland are very friendly.

The most profound positive I experienced was the amazing dedication of the delegates attending General Conference. They are truly the saints of United Methodism gathering together, often at major expense to themselves, for the purpose of furthering the church and its mission of Creating Disciples of Christ for the Transformation of the World, our UM mission statement.

And United Methodism is a world-wide denomination. The number of our African brothers and sisters in Christ are growing at the rate of more than 50% each year! The cultural diversity they brought to the GC was amazing! Their ability to manage the translation of the business matters, our voting processes, as well as the travel and logistics of being in Portland are nothing short of miraculous. The highlight of the week was a joint dinner with the Liberian delegation on our final night in Portland hosted by Illinois Great Rivers’ delegate Steve Schonert and his lovely wife. We closed in enthusiastic prayer and song!

I also had the privilege of meeting many, many delegates from the U.S. The divergent viewpoints and the intensity with which we debated those views was nothing short of amazing! The entire process gave us our best chance at shaping our mission for more inclusion of more people without negating our beliefs in whatever position we hold. And inclusion, although the major topic, was not the only topic to be debated. And despite our ability to agree, for the most part we were not disagreeable.

AS a final note, I appreciate your prayers for our conference; and for me personally as I serve. Please continue doing so; Annual Conference for our Illinois Great Rivers Conference comes up in a few short weeks. And just after in July is our North Central Jurisdictional Conference where we will be selecting four bishops for the North Central Jurisdiction including Illinois Great Rivers. Prayer works!

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