Next week, members of the Kentucky Annual Conference will gather in Covington at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center for Annual Conference. The three-day event is typically a “family reunion,” where friends gather to reconnect, worship, and discern where God is leading our movement in the coming year.
I’m usually excited for this annual gathering. This year, however, I dread going to annual conference.
It has nothing to do with fighting Northern Kentucky traffic. It has nothing to do with my annual search for an affordable meal option. It even has nothing to do with the long lines for coffee during breaks.
It has everything to do with the current state of our denomination. We are in a state of infighting, which is not healthy for the long-term mission and vitality of the church. Continue reading
The 2015 Kentucky Annual Conference got underway, today, at the Sloan Convention Center in Bowling Green. Among the activities, thus far, have been the initial vote to elect delegates to the upcoming General and Jurisdictional conferences and the annual service of ordination and commissioning.
As the first day comes to a close, here are three general takeaways from the day.
- Bishop Davis continued the conference’s focus on healthy churches by focusing the opening sermon on the fact that healthy churches are called to be “salt and light” in our communities. He also focused on how churches can be places of mission and ministry to the lost regardless of the size and age of the congregation.
- There is also a difference, Bishop Davis said, in believing in Christ and being a disciple of Christ. He used the analogy of his involvement in fishing saying that he was a believer in fishing (only somewhat committed but enjoy it) compared to a friend of his who is a disciple (totally committed to fishing). He said many in our churches only believe in Christ and need to be developed into a disciple of Christ.
- The first reading of the budget was held today. The proposed 2016 budget calls for approximately $7.5 million, which is about $500,000 less than anticipated revenues. The budget, as proposed, represents a desire for the conference to promote sustainable budgets and ministries, which it attempts to do through budget cuts, spending in necessary areas, and proper adjustments to reflect real spending. The movement of recent budgets in the annual conference towards long-term sustainability should be a call for our local churches to do the same.
I’ve been to several annual conferences before, but today was a new experience. This was the first time I attended as a delegate, and a “clergy” delegate at that. Today, I officially moved from the back rows of a visitor and into the halls of the conference.
It was certainly a new experience as the Kentucky Annual Conference began in earnest.
Today’s opening day was about getting started and getting to work. After a morning executive session for the clergy and a lay session, the business began in the afternoon with several reports and the first reading of the proposed $9 million budget.
What the first day of the conference was truly about was two things: reconnecting and confirming. Throughout the day old friends reconnected with one another. The conference halls of the Northern Kentucky Convention Center were filled with people sharing stories and laughter. We United Methodist enjoy a good laugh.
It was also a time of confirming. The opening day’s festivities included the approval of ordinands as provisional elders and deacons and fully ordained elders. This clergy vote, publicly blessed during a ordination service this evening, was the culmination of many years of prayers, hard work, and dedication to a call that God has placed on each person’s heart. It confirmed and celebrated the work of God in each person and the new ministries each will undertake.
As for me, I was confirmed as a local license pastor. This is just the first stop of what I hope to be an onward movement toward ordination as a full elder in the Kentucky Annual Conference. After years of struggling to find my hope, I know without a doubt that God has called Abbi and I to remain in Kentucky and serve God here. Even after a year in ministry, I felt some of the reunion aspects of annual conference in reconnecting with some of the friends in ministry I have made over the past couple of years.
Tomorrow, the business will continue with some of the heavier issues, such as health care, still to be discussed. Also, tomorrow will include an Afternoon of Service. Clergy and lay delegates will go out into the Covington area and serve God by assisting various ministries in the area. It is truly a wonderful thing that we do and I am looking forward to participating by giving blood.