On a beautiful sunny summer solstice, members of Arkansas’s United Methodist Churches met at 9:30 a.m. at the Hot Springs Convention Center on Wednesday, June 21 for the 2023 Annual Conference.
Kathy Conley, conference leader and member of the Northeast District Committee on Ordained Ministry, opened the laity session. As part of her prayer, she asked God to help us to His table of love for all of God’s children.
Next, Teresa Bolin, chair of lay servant ministries and a spiritual director, shared with the audience what is spiritual direction. “We are in a season of questioning,” she said. “The core of spiritual direction is a relationship between the spiritual director and the person seeking their spiritual direction by discerning what God is calling each person is to do. It relies on the Holy Spirit. It offers companionship in discerning where God is working and not working in our lives.
Spiritual direction is the lifelong pursuit of determining what is and what is not of God. It is a way to reconnect to our soul, our faith and our God.”
She then read of the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4 as an example of spiritual direction. “Sometimes, we need someone to remind us to stop, to look and to listen,” Teresa said. “Sometimes, we reach those moments in life where we just need to move on. Discerning a way forward invites us to something, someone new. When we are invited to exam ourselves in the light of Jesus, everything changes.”
I know we face uncertain times, but we rely on a God of certainty. You have at your disposal and connection a team of professional spiritual directors.
Below is a first step you can take in your own spiritual direction journey. Prayer this
The Welcoming Prayer (after each line, pause)
Welcome, welcome, welcome.
I welcome everything that comes to me today because I know it’s for my healing.
I welcome all thoughts, feelings, emotions, person, situations, and conditions.
I let go of my desire for power and control.
I let go of my desire for affection, esteem, approval and pleasure.
I let go of my desire for survival and security.
I let go of my desire to change any situation, condition, person, or myself.
To learn more about the Perkins Spiritual Direction program, drop by their booth next to the Mount Eagle table in the hallway.
ARUMC 2023 Information Posted to ARUMC Daily
Amy Ezell, director of communications for the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church, welcomed laity and gave appreciation to everyone attending, whether it was their first or twentieth conference. She emphasized Kathy Conley’s request to take back to each home church the information learned at Conference. She then explained there are three ways you can access information about this year’s conference:
- The ARUMC.org. Go to the Conferences tab, scroll down, and click on Annual Conference 2023. Updates and a Dailey Digest will be posted each day to recap what has taken place.
- Social Media. Follow the Arkansas Conference on the United Methodist Church on Facebook and Instagram for updates, and if you are posting from your own social media platforms, please use the hashtag #cometothetable2023 so everyone can find updates.
- Preconference journal. You can download the pre-conference journal at https://arumc.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/PCJ-2023.pdf and print it to make notes. There is space on each page and a Notes section in the back of the journal for your use.
Amy explained that if there are any questions, please visit the website or see her at the six-foot table to the left of the arena. She then discussed the new layout of the room using round tables.
“This is to allow laity to share and listen,” she said. “It’s a place for you to be inspired, share lament and connect with each other.”