This is a special Annual Conference edition of the Words from Will. As you read this, I'm at the Florence Civic Center with United Methodists from across the state. Each pastor is expected to be here, as is at least one lay member from each congregation. Central, being a larger church, actually has 7 lay members representing us. Be sure to thank them: Carl Camp, Harry Glover, Dori Beth Hill, Paula Hinson, Levi Nelson, Alex Thompson, and Bob Wells.
The Annual Conference began yesterday with opening clergy and laity sessions-the only time we're in separate meetings-followed by an opening worship service. Our theme this year is "A More Excellent Way." As you'll recall, Paul introduces the famous "Love Chapter" (1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13) by saying he would show the Corinthians "a still more excellent way." May God give us the grace to pursue the greater excellence of loving well.
Beginning this morning and going into Wednesday afternoon, thousands of United Methodists will be worshiping, learning, celebrating, discussing, and planning together around this theme.
According to the Book of Discipline, "The purpose of the Annual Conference is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world by equipping its local churches for ministry and by providing a connection for ministry beyond the local church; all to the glory of God" (paragraph 601). This week's annual meeting is to help facility that purpose.
I hope you'll join us for some of the fun. All the meetings are free and open to the public. The ones I think you might enjoy best are:
- Tonight at 7 p.m. - Commissioning and Ordination Service (Bishop McCleskey preaching)
- Tuesday and Wednesday, 8:30 a.m. - Bible Study with Dr. Luther Smith
- Tuesday at 2 p.m. - Memorial Service
- Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. - Concert benefiting Imagine No Malaria
- Wednesday (scheduled for 12 p.m.) - Sending Forth and Fixing of Appointments
If you want to follow along, but can't get to the Civic Center, www.umcsc.org/home/resources/2016-annual-conference/ has daily digests and a live-stream option.
Pray for us in our holy conferencing.