Getting Real About Life, about Love, and about God

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Annual Conference

I have been away for the past four days at our church's annual conference. For those unfamiliar with the United Methodist Church we are a connectional church system. This basically means that we all work together and each local church is part of a larger church. The Annual Conference is a time for us to come together to do the annual business of the church and to connect on the larger level to each other and to God.

This years Annual Conference was a special one that really helped me to understand more fully what it means to be connectional church. This year I was ordained at Annual Conference. After 11 years of ministry as a licensed and commissioned pastor I have been ordained as an Elder in our church. After being recommended by my home church, a district committee on ministry, and the conference board of ordained ministry and elected by my peers the Bishop laid hands in me, prayed over me and ordained me as an elder in the United Methodist Church.

When I knelt before the Bishop I was surrounded by others who also laid hands on me. There was a bishop from the Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church and a Bishop form the Presbyterian Church, USA who also stood there. They represented the connection to the larger UMC and to the Church everywhere. We are all connected. Jesus prays in the garden that we all would be one. Also, there with with hands on me where Jon, Jeff, Dick and Steve. Steve is my DS. He is my immediate boss. But, he is a friend and colleague in ministry. I have known Steve most of my ministry. He pastored a neighboring church when I first started in ministry. Dick is a friend that has always been there for me. He gave me my first Senior Pastor appointment. Dick, Jon and Jeff have been there through highs and lows of ministry. They have prayed for me and supported me. Jon is the pastor that led me to Jesus. Jon helped me to understand that I could be used by God. Jon has been a shoulder to lean on, a mentor to learn from and a friend to laugh with. Jeff has been a friend for many years who has been used by God in special ways in my life to encourage me and to show me that God never leaves me or forsakes me. Jeff has always reminded me to look for the good every day.

But there was not just them standing there. My family also stood up with me. So did people from the churches that I have served throughout my ministry. Also, there were friends that I have met and made in the last 11 years of this journey. Friends made in seminary and through ministry. As I felt the weight of the hands on me as the Bishop said "I ordain you"... and "take your authority", I felt the connection. I felt the Spirit that connects us all together. I was ordained by the church. I felt the presence of that first group at Pleasant Hill UMC that said they thought God was calling me to ministry. I felt the connection to the people who for the past 11 years on boards of ordained ministries have affirmed God's calling and said they think i should be ordained. I felt the presence of all the people that have allowed me to be their pastor. I felt the presence of all of the communities that I have served in. I felt the presence of my family who has always supported, prayed for and encouraged me on this journey. The connection came together for that moment. I could see more clearly how we are all connected as one. When we are together we can physically connect by placing our hands on each other but we remain forever connected by the Spirit that lives and dwells in each of us. Even when we cannot physically make a connection God connects us together.

Each Sunday, for ll years of ministry, I have had the congregation hold hands for the benediction and tried to remind them of this connection. Although, I have continually lifted up that we are always connected, I still don't fully understand all that that it means. But, I do know that I have discovered it in a new and deeper way through the connection that was made with everyone at my ordination. I am truly riding a Holy Spirit high that I felt in the moment of feeling the connection as those hands where placed on me. This might sound silly. I am sure it does. Words are a silly way of trying to describe a God beyond description. But they are all I got for this blog. Recognize your connection to everyone you meet. Look for the face of Jesus in all that you encounter today. Tune in to the connection that is making you one with the other.

Love Today.

In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

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