Annual Conference

Posted by: Richenda at Tuesday June 30, 2009 in

Thank you University of Puget Sound for hosting the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference again! This was my first year, but wow, what a beautiful campus. I confess that my only prior knowledge of Tacoma was the stretch of I-5 that squishes traffic past the Tacoma-Dome. And, well, I didn’t think much of the place. I was proved judgmental and uninformed last week at the conference. There are some beautiful areas of Tacoma, and the University of Puget Sound is one of them.

The coolest thing about the campus was the architecture. It was kind of monastic looking, and, well, hobbity. Check out this set of doors, one of many like it:

I stayed in Schiff Dormitory, which for some reason (is it 2009? or am I imagining that?) did not have wireless. Bummer!

The dorm didn’t have wireless, but it might have had something else. I stayed in room 020. Well, that was what the room number was supposed to be. At some point, though, some young college waif had changed the room number to reflect something else.

An interesting room to house visiting Methodist clergy! lol. Once inside, however, the room looked innocent enough.

And it was really nice to stay on campus and leave the CO 2 emissions to someone else for a while. It was also wonderful to spend time on the campus. If there wasn’t wifi in the room, at least there was in the Student Center and that was open late. And the campus was beautiful.

The landscaping was absolutely gorgeous with blooming rhoddies and hostas and carefully manicured shrubbery. There was also a lovely central square—back to the monastery thing—which reminded me of a monkish promenade.

As well as mysterious archways that led who knows where.

In all the campus was a picture-perfect place for a conference.

The conference itself was held in the field house, a huge high-beamed athletic venue we transformed into worship centers and a legislative chamber.

There was also the requisite presence of Cokesbury Books. As a newbie to the process I was let in on the secret of using the blue bags. You start a bag on the first day of conference and add to it as you go. By the last day, if you can lift the bag without a forklift you get a free vial of anointing oil. :)

This nifty system proves how devoted the clergy is to improving their sermons, their bible study classes, and their support of congregations. Not to mention their love of any healthful exercise that consists of lugging, hauling, and dragging books. I bought a few…I admit it. But they looked great. I also bought a Methodist Book of Resolutions which is…thick. I’ll need it, though, because I’m headed for Pastor Boot Camp next week.

A few things to lift up from the conference. One is just how cool it is to be Methodist Clergy. I am so grateful to be surrounded by like-minded folks who care about our world and the people in it. We affirmed a lot of stuff at the conference, not the least of which was that the environment matters, that it matters that people have access to health care, and torture can never be permitted anywhere, especially not where we are party to it.

We also are committed to real welcome, of all people, at our Methodist churches. There are still some who worry about power, who gets it and why. We are all human, after all. But even so we are on the right road. Discernment and Love are a powerful combination. Our challenge will be in true practice.

Finally, I want to lift up the Jamaa Letu Orphanage in Lubumbashi, Congo. This orphanage is sponsored by our conference. At the conference our churches together with the Methodist foundation raised over $60,000 to build housing for the boys who live there. The challenge went up, could we raise the funds needed? And could we do it in 24 hours? Could we call our churches and families and find money to put to this worthy cause?

And we did!

I would encourage you to help, too. Here’s the link: Hope for the Children of Africa.

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