Annual Conference schedule shifts to include weekend

The 2014 Annual Conference will see a change to its agenda that was first discussed years ago: moving the meeting so that part of it takes place on a weekend. Both the 2014 and 2015 dates have been set with this shift in mind. The rationale for the change, as stated in the 2013 Conference Journal: “to hopefully increase the attendance of laity and part-time local pastors who would typically only have to take one day off of work instead of three; and hopefully this would allow younger lay members to be elected by local churches.” Dates for Annual Conference 2014 were originally set as June 20-22, a Friday through Sunday. The time frame has now been extended to June 19-22, because the current Conference Session Planning Committee determined that part of Thursday, June 19, would be needed, as well. The revised schedule has the lay and clergy sessions convening on June 19 at 3 p.m. Even with that extension, the schedule still reduces by one weekday the amount of time a layperson or part-time local pastor would have to take off work to attend. As part of the move to a weekend schedule, ordination will take place on Sunday at 1 p.m. While this change may make it easier for the families of ordinands to be present, the Conference Session Planning Committee acknowledges that it will require adjustment on the part of local churches, who will not have their pastors in the pulpit that day. “Local churches may have options that look a little different from their regular Sunday worship and other activities,” said the Rev. Jeanne Williams, chair of the Annual Conference worship team. “We’re exploring ways to connect congregations with what’s happening at Annual Conference. For example, a church may choose to somehow serve their community that morning, gather for lunch, then worship together by live-streaming the ordination service in the afternoon.” Look for updates on plans for Annual Conference in future issues of the Arkansas United Methodist.