Please tell me what happens at annual conferences : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

Yahoo! I am so excited about being a new member to the AME church. In august I will be attending my first Annual Conference. I am familiar with Annual Conferences from being a United Methodist minister but I just have a feeling this will be different. I am especially interested in hearing about the fellowship aspect of the conference. Also please tell me about 1.)Planning meetings 2.)Music and Christian Education Conferences 3.)And I want to visit Annual conferences in Namibia is that possible? I am so excited and happy to be AME. I love you all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

-- Anonymous, February 21, 2001


My, My, MY Sister; How wonderful to see your excitement at the upcoming Annual Conference. You will enjoy it no doubt. I guess the Opening Worship is the high point. All of the pastors are robed and seated as a group. One of the pastor is chosen to preach the annual sermon. It is an honor to preach the opening message as well as being part of the pulpit worship party. The reading of the pastorial reports is another high experience for me. There I get new ideas of how to improve my work, etc.

Then, of course, the closing worship and reading of the pastor's assignments. There is much more which I will leave for someone else but these are the ones that mean the most for me. By the way, Bishop John R. Bryant conducts a wonderful conference. Blessings Pastor Paris

-- Anonymous, February 21, 2001

For me Rev. Rogers, one of the highpoints is the Ordination service. Seeing the men and women who have studied to show themselves worthy being ordained into our denomination gives me goosebumps. The other and my all time favorite point is the reading of appointments. We gather together and sing "Go Preach My Gospel" and I listen to see what Church receives what Pastor. As a PK my heart still flutters when I hear "Go Preach My Gospel".

Rev. Rogers keep up your enthusiasm. The Annual Conference is in my opinion a spirit filled wonderful calling together of AMEs.

-- Anonymous, February 21, 2001

Ah, the Annual Conference. If ever there was a keystone of Methodism, this is it.

For some the Annual Conference begins with that last good-bye the Sunday before. We sometimes forget that a hallmark of Methodism is itineracy, and we must therefore be prepared always for change. For the pastor, the change may be either satisfying - a recognition of work completed, a promotion - or gut-wrenching, as when you feel you have so much more to do at Charge A. For the congregation, similar senses may abound, especially the sense of urgency when a leadership situation needs to be addressed, or expectancy when a current pastor is about to retire or move on, or anxiety if you really want your old pastor back.

The fellowship begins with the Missionary Day. Typically resplendent in white, the Missionary Society gathers for worship, encouragement, workshops, acknowledgement of the past year's accomplishments, and the charge for the coming year from the Episcopal Supervisor.

The organization and opening of the conference beckons for nearly a year. African Methodism hearkens back to its episcopal roots as the pulpiteers for the day lead a majestic procession of clerics. Spangled in stoles of red, green, kinte, black, with the presiding elder in white robe trimmed in blue, and capped by the Bishop, trailing in purple, these servants of God Most High seem ready for the heavenly choir.

Music is always a delightful element of the Annual Conference. Most conferences that I have attended start off with a strong hymn, such as "Holy, Holy, Holy", "We're Marching to Zion", or "All Hail the Power" as processionals. Following the call to worship is the plaintive exhortation "And Are We Yet Alive?" Too often this hymn is taken for granted, but I am finding it more meaningful each year, for its words ring ever poignant. The Lord has not only spared us for another season, but He has brought us through triumphs, troubles, tribulations, fightings, envyings, and we are Yet Alive!

The Annual Conference's music is presented by either the Host Church or a Conference Choir (or both in some combination). The singers have worked hard to make praise paramount and worship well-supported. After the opening prayer the conference usually hears a rousing anthem. This may draw on our European heritage with numbers from Bach, Beethoven or Mozart, or from contemporary creations such as Smallwood. The anthem sets the musical tone for the week, stating that the Choir is here to serve.

You asked about the fellowship. One of the fellowship times I have observed with amusement and joy is the work of the "sidewalk bishops". Every Annual Conference has one official bishop appointed by the Episcopal Committee, but I have seen "many" outside the church during breaks offering their views of who's going where next. The speculations and ruminations of these "sidewalk bishops" seem to go on all the way up to the last day's "Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow."

Another delight at conference is watching the administration of the bishops. Each bishop has a unique style, having served the church on both sides of the "bar". I have been fortunate in my life to observe the workings of several - Hickman, Hildebrand, Cummings, Pruitt, Bryant, Young. All were efficient, kind, knowledgable, and patient. I think you will find Bishop Bryant to be spiritual, insightful, and very willing to teach.

The Annual Conference is also made unique through the hospitality of the Host Church. Here we see the loving people of God carrying on a 200 year tradition of rolling out the red carpet, fixing the most delightful meals, graciously providing transportation, and topping it all off with the knick-knacks and extra thoughts that make each conference a little different from the year before. You will find yourself collecting the first of your Souvenir Journals, which will, over a lifetime, provide a very nice remembrance of the history of the conference and of your participation in African Methodism.

The Closing Service is a moment of tension, anticipation, and New Beginnings. Congregations may bus in members from across the jurisdiction to share in this joint worship service, held on either a Saturday or Sunday. The whole congregation waits with anticipation to hear the Bishop present her/his Annual Conference Closing Sermon. This climactic word serves to energize the pastors as they are sent to their (possibly new) charges. The Bishop will remind us to keep first and foremost the work of the gospel, the mission of the church, and the call of Christ. a good conference will include in its closing a very dynamic resolution. For many years in New England, the Rev. Maxwell's reading of the resolution was as anticipated as any sermon presented.

The culmination of conference is the reading of the Pastoral Appointments. Each bishop does this in a unique way. Some may read the name. Others may start by reading the charge. Bishop Hildebrand used to ask all who thought they were going to get an appointment to come forth and stand together on the stage. It must have been very nerve-wracking for those last two pastors if they were not sure about their future. :-). Congregations cheer the reappointment of beloved pastors, fall silent on disappointing assigments, or hoop and holler at the bishop's surprises. It appears to be a tradition that the host church's appointment is either the last or penultimate one, deferring only to the largest church in the conference. The Bishop caps the reading of the appointments with an immediate call to "Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow." As the strains of music fade, another year is completed, and the Cycle of Methodism, the period of itineracy, begins again.

The Annual Conference. It will stir you, challenge you, enlighten you, confuse you, excite you, disappoint you, but ultimately bless you. Enjoy every moment, and treasure every memory.

-- Anonymous, February 21, 2001

Thanks to all of you for sharing your stories. I could also tell you were smiling as you post your responses. I can honestly say I am counting the days to Annual Conference for it will mark a new beginning for me. We are planning to bring the congregation with us to annual conference. So I am glad to know that is o.k. Are the conferences ever video taped. I would love to have a rememberence to look at during the year. By the way, no one has mentioned food yet. Is that part of the experience? I hope so.

-- Anonymous, February 21, 2001

Yes, Rev Rogers, portions of the conference are video taped and the Host Church will either provide all meals for the attendees, or tell you where to go for meals. For me, each Annual Conference has been a very uplifting experience for me, because you get to see African Methodism at work, and at its best! I pray your and your congregations experience will be equally enjoyed.

-- Anonymous, February 22, 2001

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