Annual Conference: a message from Bishop Gary Mueller

Bishop Gary E. Mueller

Bishop Gary E. Mueller

I attended my first Annual Conference as a lay member at the end of my junior year in high school, my first Annual Conference as a deacon in probationary membership after my middle year of seminary and my first Annual Conference as an elder in full connection two years after graduating from seminary.

That’s a lot of Annual Conferences over a lot of years.

It’s interesting to reflect on how different parts of Annual Conference have been important to me at different times in my life. Early on, it was debating the great issues facing our world. Later, it was the clergy session dealing with my ordination. Some times, it’s been resolutions or proposed General Conference legislation. At other times, it’s been the election of General and Jurisdictional Conference delegates. And, at still other times, it’s been worship.

I bring a different perspective to Annual Conference these days. I don’t focus nearly as much on any single part of Annual Conference, but rather how we are inspired, motivated and equipped to go back home and create vital congregations that make disciples of Jesus Christ, who make disciples engaged in transforming lives, communities and the world.

We’ll accomplish this the way Methodists have always structured Annual Conference. We’ll address important legislation, celebrate the ministry of those who are retiring, conference about important issues in our world, grieve for those who have died and commission and ordain persons for ministry. But we’ll also highlight “glory sightings,” join together in passionate worship, encounter our connection at work in powerful ways, be challenged to respond to God’s call on our lives and experience what it means to truly be part of the Body of Christ.

There will be some things we’ll do that you wish we wouldn’t. We may fail to spend enough time on some things you believe are very important and spend too much time on others.

But when all is said and done, we will witness, celebrate, listen to God, grow as disciples who make disciples and experience a powerful call to spiritual revival.

As we continue our journey to Annual Conference, I want to share a prayer members of our Worship Planning Team have written to guide us through our time together next month in Hot Springs:

God, wake us to the beauty and pain alive in our world and our church as we gather for this time of holy conferencing.

Revive us by the power of your spirit, that we encounter your compelling presence in every session, every service, every conversation.

Transform us, that after the lights are dimmed and the arena is quiet, our lives carry forth the hope of your world-changing love.

We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.