Report of Lay Leader to Annual Conference
The Florida Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church was held at the Lake Buena Vista Palace Hotel in Orlando, FL from June 16-18, with 1700 Florida United Methodists attending. The year’s theme was, Leading like Jesus and much of the agenda included sessions to help the attendees learn what it would be like to lead like Jesus.
The keynote speakers were: Jeff James of the Disney Leadership Institute, Bishop Janice Huie of the Texas Conference of the UMC, Rev. Bill Hybels of the Willow Creek Community Church and Lucille O’Neal, a leader in the Orlando community. The music was led by Jeremy Hearn of First UMC in Lakeland.
The Annual Conference began with Bishop Ken Carter and Bishop Adam Richardson of the African Methodist Episcopal Church serving as co-celebrants for Holy Communion, as a visible sign of our shared Wesleyan Identity.
We witnessed a service of licensing, commissioning and ordination of over 50 individuals. Also there was a service of retirement recognition and a service of remembrance.
There was a business side of the conference with resolutions to be voted upon and adoption of the Florida Conference budget for 2017. St. Andrew’s was one of the churches listed in the Conference Workbook for paying 100% of our apportionments in 2015. St. Andrew’s was also honored for their 50th Anniversary as a United Methodist Church.
On a personal note, I was reminded that we are part of the cloud of witnesses that has existed since the disciples received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, as recorded in the Book of Acts. I left the Annual Conference with the thought that as disciples we are to keep the flame burning as we welcome new people into our church and that we should never be the cause of the flame being put out in another person by anything we say or do. We are to seek others in our neighborhood to become a part of our fellowship and to make spaces for them so they may become a part of the Kingdom of God. It became clearer to me after seeing the Florida Conference Budget that we are definitely following the great commission of Jesus Christ to go and make disciples of all nations. This is happening because of the generous giving of United Methodists to the cause of missions throughout the world.
Submitted by Carol Wilson, Lay Member to Annual Conference