Annual Conferences Effectiveness : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

I have recently returned from my Annual Conference and I have thought about this for a while now. As I sat through the roll call, it amazed me to see how many clergy persons were in attendance and how many lay persons there. I may be wrong but for every one lay person, there was three clergy. Another observation was the number of clergy not answering the roll and the presiding elder nor a senior pastor seemed to know the status of these clergy. My final observation for now was the state on committee reports.

I will pose just one thought for discussion now and that is concerning the committee reports. I am aware that there are some reports that can not be prepared prior to the opening of the conference, but for those such as the State of the Church, Christian Education etc, these reports can be composed prior to the conference and should be inclusive of all members assigned to that committee.

The chairperson read the report and ended with the Pastor's names and the delegates from such and such church. Now I would think that if those delegates had had any input into the report, their names should appear just as much as the pastors names. Also, since committee assignments are made well in advance of the annual conference, I would have tought that the chairperson would have either contacted the presiding elder or the pastor of the chruch to find out who the delegate was and then asked tat delegates input. Also, I would have thought that with enough time, some reports could be composed and printed and sent to the host church to be a part of the registration packet for all who pay the $100 plus as registration fee.

Am I off in left field with this concept or what?

-- Anonymous, September 09, 2004


Ms. Thompson, It has been my experience that our AME Annual conferences are mostly ceremonial rather than substance. We are holding on to some traditions that others have chosen to drop. Now that is not to be negative for indeed we should think carefully before we discard some traditions. In the beginning, the Annual Conference were composed of only Clergy. At that time the local church property was owned by the local congregations. The Annual Conference main purpose was to oversee the welfare of the preachers and assign pastors to the local circuits and/or congregations. Later on Lay Delegates from the local churches were accepted as members of the Annual Conference. Consult your discipline for Annual Conference membership and duties.

Be Blessed

-- Anonymous, September 10, 2004

Rev. Parris, Thank you for your reply and let me asure you that I am well aware of the tradition of the AME church as I am over 40 and have been a member of this church for many years. The fact that you told me to consult the discipline tells me that you, like others, are still missing the boat. And no, I am not one who wants to throw the baby out with the bath water, I just want to throw the dirty, old bath water out. God bless you.

-- Anonymous, September 10, 2004

I certainly apologize if I offended you in any way. I was trying to agree with you and perhaps share some insight as to why the conferences are the way they are. I referenced the discipline only so that I would have to "qoute" in the post. Again no offense meant.

Be Blessed

-- Anonymous, September 10, 2004

Hmmm, interesting observations.

I've never been a delegate to an annual conference or any other of our conferences, but I have attended more than a few - esp. when the congregation to which I belong is the host.

I've heard good reports and some that were not-so-good and I have heard (and in some cases,it's obvious) that the chairman often writes the reports and the members simply sign off on it. I do believe that in some cases, the committee actually did meet to at least draw up a "skeleton" to which the chairperson or a designee adds the "meat".

But what bothers me more is that usually the reports contain some proposals, recommendations, or resolutions and following the conference they are never heard of again. No actions are taken based on the reports.

And while we're on the subject, in our conference, there is what is called a "Conference Institute" which is essentially a teaching session (as opposed to the preaching sessions). We generally have very good institute leaders, sometimes from within the conference and sometimes imported. I can honestly say that I have been in very few institutes that I would describe as "poor" regarless of who the bishop has been. This is often my favorite part of the conference. The leaders come from both the clergy and the lay ranks.

BUT - there is a problem. The Institute is the first business of the day and usually held while breakfast or coffee is still being served or delegates choose to arrive later and it becomes probably the least attended part of the conference. Most notable among the absentees are the clergy - but I guess many of them consider what is being said "old hat", but this layman finds them educational and helpful.

-- Anonymous, September 13, 2004

The basic problem with our Annual Conference Reports is a lack of follow-thru. The presentation of the reports is too mechnical. Once they are received it's like they drop off in a black hole. I think the reports promote accountability, which is excellent, but more needs to be done so that the recommendations can be implemented. QED

-- Anonymous, September 14, 2004

I wish to thank all of you for your comments and to let Rev. Parris that I did not take offense. I am just a little disturbed that sometimes it is felt that "pet" answers are still given to questions and/or concerns.

I too agree that the Institutes are very educational and inspiring most of the time. I was once in an institute with Rev. Dr. Teresa Fry Brown and at the end, even I was thinking of going to Seminary just so I can continue in one or more of her classes.

There other point about reports was right on target. i trully agree that there is no follow through with these reports and maybe if all persons who is listed to be on that committee had input and the reports were in the registration packets, there might be more of a follow through.

God bless

-- Anonymous, September 15, 2004

I thought these things happens only here in Africa where Pastors run all the Conference commitees, after the organization of the Conference commitees lay people who are on these committees as delegates dont contribute towards literary reports and when the chairperson reads the report would only mentioned pastors names who are in the commmittees and he\she would say "and Conference delegates". Lay delegates have became spectators in our annual conferences. You find people with expetise being marginalised just because they aer not clergy. For Heavens sake we dont want to be Pastors or we wont take their positions but we want to contribute towards the development of the church. Why should we be elected from our circuits to be come spectators? We want to contribute to the compilation of reports of which we are part of.

-- Anonymous, September 16, 2004

Moderation questions? read the FAQ