June 6-9, our Annual Conference will meet in Wenham, MA, to continue the work of connecting Hampden Highlands UMC and Ellingwood’s Corner UMC with the rest of The United Methodist Church. Again, as I did a month ago, I’d ask you prayerfully support those who will be laboring on your behalf.
For those of you who have never attended an Annual Conference session, it’s a four-day event, including educational offerings, administrative and legislative business, worship, and time with friends, new and old. Yes, it’s work. It’s also a lot of fun (at least part of the time). Here’s what those of us attending Annual Conference this year are expecting.
On June 5th there will be a pre-conference event some folks will attend. Technically, this is beyond the actual scope of Annual Conference, but it’s the first gathering of folks, and early registration will begin in the afternoon on June 5th. We are heading down early, so Kate and I will arrive and register on Tuesday.
On Wednesday June 6th, the morning is filled with work and other meetings. The Appointive Cabinet (the Bishop and DSs) will meet, the Equitable Compensation Commission (of which I am a member) will meet, as well as other Conference committees, all starting at 9:00 am. At noon, the annual clergy luncheon takes place a few miles from campus, followed by (you guessed it) MORE meetings, the first worship music rehearsals, and the first educational offerings. After dinner, starting at 6:30 pm the Clergy Executive Session will meet for business, while the Laity Gathering will take place for fellowship and information across campus. It is the Executive Session which has the final say on clergy relationship—Full Members vote on recommended candidates for licensure as Local Pastors, provisional membership (Commissioned Minister status), and full membership (Ordination as Elders and Deacons). This session will have before it my name for full membership and ordination as an Elder, Angela Tarbox’s name for provisional membership and Commissioning as an Elder, and Reeni’s name for licensure as a Local Pastor. Pray for us all on Wednesday night—this is a huge moment for us! After Executive Session we will rehearse for the Ordination Service (this is a lot like a wedding rehearsal). Whew! One day down, three to go!
On Thursday June 7th, the day begins with worship and three Learning Center blocks, followed by lunch. During the lunch break, will be the second annual Run/Walk for Imagine No Malaria—and I’m planning for some fun during that! The afternoon begins with worship, the Bishop’s “State of the Conference” address, and some business. In the midst, those being ordained answer the “historic questions,” a series of questions asked since the time of John Wesley (and barely changed) across the Methodist world—this is a rite of passage, of covenant, and of commitment (even before the ordination service itself). Before dinner, there will be information about key legislation, dinner, and then the Ordination Service at 7:00 pm, where we recognize new Local Pastors, and commission and ordain provisional and full Elders and Deacons. Oh…there will be pictures! (Pastor’s Letter continued next page)
Pastor’s letter (continued)
On Friday there will be more worship, more legislation and more learning opportunities. The same will carry over onto Saturday. Officially, while appointments are announced in Local Churches before Annual Conference, all appointments formally happen during conference sessions between Thursday and Saturday. Brad and Reeni should expect to be called up to receive an appointment letter during one of these sessions (according to the booklet, probably Saturday morning).
Somewhere, we’ll pass the Annual Conference budget, vote on policy, hear great preaching, celebrate folks retiring from ministry, and celebrate the call of all Christians to love, serve, witness, and praise in the name of Jesus Christ. In the midst, we’ll remember where we’ve been, and plan for our future as The United Methodist Church in New England. Keep the work in prayer—remember Kelly Santiago, Linda Bright, Brad Wills, Reeni Cipullo, Rev. Kate and myself as we are away doing the work of the Church. We’ll be having fun and working for Christ in Wenham, MA while you are doing the same here. When we get back, ask us about it! We’d love to share the experience with you!
In Christ, with you,
The Rev. David Nicol, Pastor of Hampden Highlands UMC
Pastor-of-Record to Ellingwood’s Corner UMC