I promised I'd update... Somehow I had forgotten how very busy things get at Conference. But a promise is a promise -- even if that means I have to pull out the laptop and scandalously update during a business session!
So far, the highlights have included the ordination service last night. A friend was commissioned, so that was particularly meaningful.
Earlier in the day yesterday the Conference went a little crazy. The United Methodist Church, and several other organizations (i.e. the NBA...) are partnering with the Nothing But Nets campaign that provides malaria nets for children and people in countries that suffer for lack of a insecticide treated bed net.
Well. Back at General Conference in Fort Worth, Nothing But Nets was highlighted, and all of the bishops signed basketballs (apparently playing off of the net/basketball relationship -- I completely did not get that until about 1 am last night!) to auction off as a benefit for Nothing But Nets. Our conference purchased one of the balls, and gave it to our Bishop during the session yesterday. Just as Bishop Davis accepted the ball and was admiring it, one of the folks in the Conference session stood up and said "I'll bet $20 that you'll be able to shoot that ball and make a basket!" A basketball goal was brought out, and -- after missing the first shot -- Bishop Davis made it on the second try.
Then folks started waving $20 bills in the air, while the Associate Conference Secretaries ran around collecting the money in buckets with huge grins on their faces. That went on for a while. Just when we thought the donating/betting madness had ended, a church pastor got up at one of the mics and said, "Our church pledges $2,000 to the campaign!" Well, other churches couldn't stand to be outdone, so more and more folks started coming up to the mics pledging $2,000 or $2,050 if they really wanted to put in a . Some of the small-membership churches got up and pledged money. One lay leader said, "Our church is small, but we'd like to help out too -- we'll pledge a dollar for every person on our rolls." This went on for a good twenty minutes. All the while, I was wondering when my church would step up and pledge our bit.
All the other churches that are comparable in size to my church, etc. had already pledged. I was starting to get a little upset that we hadn't gotten up there, when the smaller church in my town got up and said rather snarkily, "Well. We're still waiting to hear from the big church in our town... But in the mean time, we're pledging $2,000!"
Not too long after that did the lay-leader from my church get up and say, "We pledge $25,000." The bishop then said, "Two thousand five-hundred?" The response was, "No. Twenty-five thousand."
The whole Conference erupted in applause.
It was quite an experience.
I went to dinner with the folks from my church's delegation. The discussion topic of the meal was whether or not our senior pastor knew what we had done! He wasn't actually in the session (for a very legitimate reason). We'll see!
Ok. The clergy retirees are giving their good-bye speeches... and I really want to pay attention. It looks like the first speech is about a prayer written by Thomas Merton.