As I reflected on my first Annual Conference, the only words I could utter were “Look at God!” The Spirit of the Lord was moving and electrifying all over the convention center as I witnessed people engaged in conversations, smiles, hugs and anticipation as we began our work.
As I shared in the Episcopal Address, Annual Conference is like a family reunion, a barbeque where people come together in one place. I felt a little nervous as I stood before 3,000 to share my journey for the last nine months. I could only imagine what was going on in their minds – “how will she preside, will we get to the resolutions this year and how should I vote on the five constitutional amendments?”
The Episcopal Address came from Isaiah 43:19 “… See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
I shared that I felt a “stirring” of the Spirit and God wanted to do “a new thing,” in the Virginia Conference since my installation this past September. I highlighted that to capture this “new thing” in the conference, we must change our focus, clarify our focus and commit to God’s plan.
Interestingly, Sunday came very quickly! There was business, resolutions, unfinished business, closing worship and Fixing of the Appointments to be completed. However, I could still feel the joy from the Service for the Ordering of Ministry as individuals took the first step in accepting their call to ministry on Saturday evening.
As the conference began to wind down, it was time to share the vision of the Annual Conference for the upcoming quadrennial. As I preached from Habakkuk 2:2 “… Write the vision and make it plain on tablets…” I prayed, “God, I hope they will see it and receive it.” This vision came after much prayer, discernment, sharing and compiling the data from the 32 sessions.
Our ministry vision for the Virginia Annual Conference is to be “Disciples of Jesus Christ who are lifelong learners who influence others to serve.” All United Methodist churches in Virginia will have a process of intentionally forming disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world by their influence and their acts of servanthood by 2020.
Now the work begins! If you don’t see it, that’s okay. I’m going to be here for four years, and I’m going to help you see it!