Every year, East Ohio pastors and laity in the United Methodist Church pilgrimage to a little, gated community on Lake Erie. My dad is a retired pastor, so I’ve enjoyed this trip my whole life. When I became a pastor, though, my tune changed on this week of “Holy Conferencing.” While I’ve found it encouraging to connect with my colleagues and inspiring to see a multitude of people work together, this week has been a huge drag over the years for me. Here’s why:
- Reporting. There’s tons of reporting, and naturally so. But there’s really no context where reporting is fun, as necessary as it is. This is especially true in a denomination that has experienced decline since the 60’s.
- Right-fighting. It’s no secret that the UMC has been wrestling with some hot-button issues for some time, and entrenched sides have taken advantage of this opportunity to be heard. Again, while these discussions are necessary they’re just not fun and many times distract us from our main purpose of being the church together.
- Ordination. The process of ordination for me has been a long and arduous one. Each Annual Conference over the last several years has served as a painful reminder of the process’ rejection.
That last one really got me last year. Will this year be different? Well…I will be ordained on Tuesday night, and there seems to be quite a few people coming up to celebrate. I’m also being ordained with a terrific group of colleagues, and my sense of community grows with them. Still, despite things looking up, I fear that old feelings will arrive at Lakeside simply by association.