Day 2 of conference is complete. As I sit reflecting in my hotel room, my mind races with all that we witnessed, accomplished, and commemorated. Here are my highlights:
- The whole cadre of retiring pastors and their farewell addresses. 27 pastors with over 725 years of service to the UMC is impressive and inspiring. There was humor, sentiment, and more humor. A few moments that stick out in my mind are the pastor who said he wished he’d visited more and loved more people rather than trying to fix the church; the pastor who ended with the “We’re going to Disney World” poster; the general love and appreciation displayed for each of the clergy spouses; the advice to answer the call and go where you are sent; and the love they each had for the opportunities provided to them by the United Methodist Church. Wow!
- The liturgy of passing the mantle from the retired clergy to the newly ordained. Moving!!! (Can’t wait for my turn.)
- The commitment and excitement of the delegates from El Salvador. 14 churches, 1800 members and they are on fire! I certainly felt drawn to join them in their work, particularly to provide supplies for their children’s ministry.
- The ease of education in America that we take for granted when compared to the lengths seminarians go to in other countries. They study in a second language with bizarre schedules, hold down “real” jobs, and risk so much to serve. They need professors, supplies, and scholarship support. Russia, the Philipines, all six countries we heard from.
- “When you love Jesus, you don’t just love Him in a book, you don’t just love Him in the church, you love Him in the world.”
- The legacy of the deceased clergy and spouses. The path is before us. They have blazed it. To honor them, we follow and continue the work.
I am sure there are others, but these are the ones that come to mind as I prepare to close my eyes and end another amazing day in God’s service.