As I drove back from Annual Conference last night, many highlights of the week have been going through my mind. In no particular order, here are the things that stand out for me.
- The chocolate milk shakes at Lakeside, Ohio are out of this world! I had two of them. Remember, these highlights are in no particular order.
- The biggest news that most people will remember is that on Tuesday $395,429.50 was collected during the worship service for Imagine No Malaria. This total will put the West Ohio Conference close to the 3 million dollar mark. Our three year goal as a conference is $3.5 million. We are well on our way of making this goal. Our church submitted a check for $2,700 and we will be sending in another $5,000 in the next couple of weeks. To date, our church (counting the $5,000) will have given approximately $17,000 to Imagine No Malaria. Our goal is to contribute $25,000 over three years.
- Although this highlight belongs with the first highlight regarding our Imagine No Malaria offering, the offering atmosphere during worship up at Annual Conference is amazing. It's incredible to watch all of the ushers line up to dump their baskets of offerings into the large Malaria net on stage. The Ginghamsburg praise band played an inspiring version of the popular song, "Happy" during the entire offering time. Imagine three thousand Methodists clapping and praising God during the entire offering time. Wow! It was a closest to Christ moment in the most powerful way.
- As usual, the preaching of Bishop Gregory Palmer was outstanding. I tweeted earlier in the week that Bishop Palmer's preaching is like a holy freight train delivering the good news of Jesus Christ.
- During the week, we were blessed with the teachings of Dr. Eric Law, an Episcopal Priest who has written the book, Holy Currencies. Eric reminded us that money is not the only currency. Other currencies include relationships, time and space, wellness, leadership, and truth. The biggest take away from this is to always remember that currency is meant to always be flowing. If it becomes stagnate, it becomes useless. When the church uses these six currencies and shares them with the community and world, more people are able to experience the abundant grace of God. There was a lot of great food for thought for First UMC to implement. Oh, and of course, I had to take a selfie with Dr. Law!
- We also did the typical stuff of voting on various resolutions brought forward by individuals or ministry groups. One of the resolutions that we approved was to encourage the Ohio legislators to approve a measure which would offer non-discrimination protection regarding secular housing and employment for the LBGT community. This resolution was sponsored by a wide range of people across the theological spectrum. It was what we would call in the political arena, a bi-partisan issue. The resolution passed.
- Voting was much easier this year because of the introduction of electronic voting. Each delegate was given a device to record our votes. This meant that instead of votes taking several minutes to record, we knew the results in thirty seconds!
- And last but not least, Annual Conference is always a time for the building or relationships. We get to see other pastors, church members, and friends throughout the West Ohio area. Here's a picture of the folks who attended from our church in Lancaster. Missing in the picture is Judy Morgan who served as an at large member of our Capital Area District.