Once a year, the Oregon Idaho Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church meets together for a few days of holy conferencing. At this conference, we celebrate God’s work in our churches and communities. We celebrate the commissioning and ordination of new clergy and the retirement of clergy who have served many years. We remember clergy and clergy spouses who have passed away. We celebrate the ministries of all churches who are closing. We also spend time voting on legislation that focuses on the ministries and business of the church. Due to the pandemic this conference was cancelled in June and last week, I attended the first Virtual Oregon Idaho Annual Conference. A conference that once took place in person for a couple of days was now in a virtual space and held for 4 hours.
Together we gathered in all of our homes and joined a Zoom Webinar Annual Conference. Videos were shown to celebrate: the ministries of new clergy and retiring clergy, churches who are closing, and new ministries that are beginning. We voted on business matters by using technology rather than by raising our hands.
The Bishop shared, “During August, I took a week to catch my breath and look ahead. We had been working at breakneck speed to respond to Covid-19 and urgent cries for Anti Racism work. I took a week to try and see the big picture and recognize the crucial work that lies before us. I asked myself what is our work for the next 15-18 months. Three things stood out…1) Covid-19 2) Dismantling Racism 3) The Future of The UMC. You can read in detail what the bishop is thinking in regards to these areas by following the links below.
I feel that the virtual conference provided a space for business to be done more quickly and efficiently. But I did miss the connections that happen at an in person conference. I missed seeing my colleagues who are serving in our conference and because of our distance the only time we see each other in person is at Annual Conference. I am grateful for my colleagues who created several different group chats online to provide a small sense of the community we would share in at an in person conference.
Throughout this pandemic I have constantly been faced with new ways of doing things. Sometimes I am thankful for the new way because it will make something easier and you wonder why we hadn’t done it that way before. But sometimes the new way is challenging and you miss the way things used to be. I am grateful to everyone who takes the time to reimagine and restructure things to keep people safe.
Pastor Alyssa Baker
Watch Annual Conference Here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
Articles the Bishop Refers to: