Monday, May 28, 2007

First day of business in Annual Conference

I am going to try and keep everyone informed of the doings at Annual Conference this week.

Annual Conference (for those playing along at home who don't know) is three things:
1. - It is the official name of a group of United Methodist Churches within a given geographical area. For Oklahoma, all of Oklahoma is the Oklahoma Annual Conference.
2. - It is the official rule making body for that region. So the Oklahoma Annual Conference makes the rules for the Oklahoma Annual Conference.
3. - It is the annual gathering of clergy (preacher types) and laity (real people types) where we decide on how we will conduct business within the Oklahoma Annual Conference for the coming year.

Clear as mud, I know.

But this week is Annual Conference. Our tradition is to begin on Memorial Day weekend. In the past we began work on Sunday. Recently we have only had a worship service on Sunday night and registration on Sunday afternoon. That means Monday is the first official work day.

We begin Annual Conference in executive sessions for the clergy and laity. All of the preacher types gather in one location and vote on preacher type business. The laity gather in another place and do laity stuff (I don't know what they do - I've never been to a Laity Executive session). One of the items of business for clergy is voting on new clergy members to be commissioned and ordained. This year we voted to accept 3 Deacons and 6 Elders into connection. That means, simply, that we accepted 9 preacher types into the Annual Conference, only 6 of them will serve in typical preacher type roles.

The Bishop closed the Clergy session with a heads up about the Episcopal Address that was coming up. It was a doozy. Bishop Hayes laid down the law on the Oklahoma Annual Conference with regard to churches who have not been willing to accept the appointment of pastors who are other than white males. The Bishop said that the Cabinet will NOT consider any request by a church who requests that they not receive a female (or other non-white male) pastor.

We have churches in Oklahoma who have gotten it into their heads that a woman pastor could not lead them. The Bishop is simply saying that if you want to be a United Methodist congregation, then you best get in line with the Discipline of the UMC (that's the law folks).

Bishop Hayes also addressed other challenges: continuing in the ministry of making disciples, 5% increases in active church participation, and meeting the $4,000,000 goal for capital improvements to our camps.

This is also the election year for delegates to General Conference next year. You will hear more about this in a future update. Suffice it to say that our first ballot was today.

And now on to the important item of business for Annual Conference: Restaurant reviews. Today's restaurants were: Dunkin' Donuts, Abuelo's, and Cracker Barrel.

Dunkin' Donuts was simply donuts. But they were yummy donuts. I had the blueberry cake and Bavarian cream. With a cup of coffee. That was too sweet. Hey, even I have limits to how much sugar should be in my coffee.

Lunch at Abuelo's Mexican restaurant in Bricktown. I had the enchilada and taco lunch plate. The other times I have eaten at Abuelo's I was less than impressed. But today's was pretty good. The taco was a little soggy for a "crisp" taco but it had a good flavor.

Supper was a Cracker Barrel. I had pancakes and eggs. Because that is all I like at Cracker Barrel.

I head out again tomorrow morning and will update when I return.