Reflections on Annual Conference

Annual Conference strikes me very much like Thanksgiving. The anticipation builds as you prepare to spend four days with the extended family. The excitement lasts about half a day until you look across the dry turkey and realize you will be spending the next three days with Uncle Harold. Harold snores, and because of the cramped sleeping arrangements, I have to share a bunk room with him.

As we gather our extended Methodist family together, we’ll deal with a lot of issues and those issues will raise questions. You may find yourself asking the same questions or some new ones:

  • Does any Conference Committee on Finance and Administration actually say no to new funding requests? Does any CF&A Committee actually know how to remove something from a budget? It’s great they hold the budget to a 2% increase each year – but 2% every year for eternity adds up. Remember this – when delegates vote a conference budget increase, they vote apportionment increases – that means tough budget decisions at the local church level. Apportionment increases, pension increases, health insurance increases – the local church cuts programs and pay raises to make it fit – what does the conference cut?
  • If selling alcohol on Sunday (the Lord’s Day) is a moral issue, then why isn’t selling alcohol on any other day not a moral issue? Saturday is the Sabbath. Christmas Eve is on Monday in 2007. Good Friday is on, yes, a Friday. In America, isn’t it a moral issue to deny people the right to vote on this issue? That’s all the legislature wants – to allow local communities to choose.
  • On a lighter note, isn’t it great that Annual Conferences now do a day of service in the host cities? Isn’t it even greater that they offer a golf tournament that raises money for charities on the day of service? (Especially since those folk would be playing golf on the day of service anyway?) Now that was brilliant!
  • Do I really want to vote for a delegate who wants to go to General/Jurisdictional Conference too much?
  • Isn’t a night off at Annual Conference terrific? A night of free time to catch up with friends over a relaxing dinner and night out – it’s more brilliant than the golf.
  • Could we go one year without actually forming a new committee or task force? If we do establish one, is it too much to expect them to do their work in one year?
  • Why does the Cabinet report have to tell us how many miles they drove last year? Do I need to know how many times they would circle the globe? Just a thought – if you leave that kind of stuff out, your 15 minute report might actually be 15 minutes.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Annual Conference. Getting together with the extended family is a wonderful experience. Just don’t fault me for being glad when it’s over – it’s nothing personal – I just don’t care for the snoring.

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