Annual Conference Highlights—Why it matters? We are not church on an island, but we are connected to the greater Church through the Body of Christ. Our lay rep and pastor attended The Baltimore Washington Annual Conference gathering last week, and here is a report of the highlights.
Baltimore Mayor Thanks United Methodists for Support: The Mayor of Baltimore Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who was raised Methodist joined us for the opening day of Conference. She shared vulnerably the joys and struggles of the past few weeks in Baltimore. “I cannot say enough about the faith leaders we have across the board in our community of every faith tradition but I also want to specifically thank the members of the United Methodist Church,” said Rawlings-Blake. Pastors and laity from the Baltimore district shared their response to the situation in Baltimore—on the days schools were closed, United Methodist Churches opened their doors and invited community children in for meals and activities. United Methodists marched for peace through Baltimore, and did prayer walks throughout the city. During the mayor’s visit, we all reached out our hands and offered prayer for the Mayor and the people of Baltimore. It was very moving.
Worship and Ordination – Worshipping with hundreds of other Methodist Clergy and laity is the highlight of Conference for both of us. This year the theme was “Dare To Believe” and the story of Jesus walking on the water. We were inspired to be more courageous followers of Jesus. Rev. Bonnie serves on the worship team for Conference, and in the days preceding Conference, you might have seen her making 18 foot by 15 foot banner of a cross, made out of fishnet. This served as the backdrop throughout Conference. Rev. Bonnie celebrated the 1 year anniversary of her ordination.
Circles of Grace on Controversial Issues — We gathered in small groups to discuss legislation and petitions. After very grace-filled conversation, the BWC voted to send a petition to General Conference to remove the language in our Book of Discipline that currently states “The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” The General Conference, which will meet in 2016, is the only body with the authority to make this change. If you would like to discuss the church’s stance on homosexuality, Rev. Bonnie welcomes you to make an appointment with her.
Our District Superintendent, JW – JW, and 5 other clergy, and 6 laity were elected as delegates to General Conference 2016, which will discuss important issues and doctrine facing the church today.
Our Apportionments (your offerings) Support- Partnered ministry with the church in Korea, Russia, Puerto Rico and Zimbabwe. We celebrated the work of Africa University, Imagine No Malaria, and ministry in Baltimore and around with world.
Appointments are Fixed – Every year at Annual Conference, the bishop declares the work of pastoral appointments to be finished. Translation: Ya’ll are stuck with me, Rev. Bonnie, for another year! In truth—I’m so delighted to have another year with Trinity, and hopefully many more to follow.
While I sadly did not get to connect with Rev. Williams, I did get to see Rev. Miller, and send you all his greetings and love!
Mike Helland and Rev. Bonnie