I attended the Peninsula-Delaware Annual Conference this weekend in Princess Anne, Maryland. As an appointed student pastor, I am required to go. This was technically my second annual conference, but I did not attend because Andrea's due date was during conference. So on Friday, I made the 80 minute trip to University of Maryland Eastern Shore.
Conference was.....about what I expected. This year, there was very little business to take care of. Aside from Friday, there were little resolution and/or debate. This may be a good thing because as recently as two years ago, there was much debate and tension on some hot topic issues. So, rather than business, we listened to report after report from various committees and teams.
Bishop Marcus Matthews preached during the opening sessions and told the conference that we must continue to move ahead as a church to reach new people. He said that we cannot put new wine into old wineskins and must be innovative in our approach to evangelism and discipleship. Then we sang a 200 year old hymn accompanied by the pipe organ. I think this is my biggest concern about conference. You have all these pastors and church leaders together and we listen to reports, rather than dialogue/model ways to reach those who do not know Christ. There was nothing modern about the worship services. It was business as usual, as if it were 195-something.
There were some good things about conference. As a young pastor, and a student, I am still learning other pastor's names, faces, and places. This weekend, I was encouraged to have several good discussions with pastors I knew, and some I didn't. That was probably the most helpful thing of the weekend.
Another great thing was one of the students from my church went forward during ordination about believing that God was calling him into some sort of ministry. It was exciting to pray with him, especially as he is a student that I have a lot of time and prayer invested in.
Finally, it was nice to do conference with Andrea and Abbie. While they did not attend conference, we stayed together in a hotel. I would come home in the afternoon and swim with them in the pool and had dinner together one evening. It was nice to be together as a family.