(Rev. Jeremy Steele for AWF Conference) - In addition to our delegates, bishop and some of the conference staff, several dedicated United Methodist leaders from our conference have made the long pilgrimage to Saint Louis joining over 3,000 other observers to have a front seat at this historic gathering. The question we asked was why? Why carve out almost a week in your schedule? Why travel over 500 miles? Why sit in a room listening to motions and legislation debates upon which you can not ultimately vote?
For Rev. Jean Tippit, associate pastor at Christ UMC in Mobile, AL it starts with history. “It’s a historical moment in our church and I wanted to be a part of that history.” But it doesn’t end there, she also said, “I also wanted to be here in support and prayer for those who make these difficult decisions.”
The conference began on Saturday with an entire day devoted to just that: prayer and worship, but the prayer continues. All United Methodists have been called to prayer before and during this event. There are several resources available for that at UMCprays.org as well as a prayer written by a pastor in our annual conference.
Rev. Jake and Rev. Dana Brady, pastors at First United Methodist Church in Geneva, AL made the trip together looking for an unvarnished account. “We want to be in contact, firsthand, with what happens here” he said hoping to be able to bring that eye-witness account to the churches they lead.
Our annual conference is offering daily emails to help you do just that back home. You can sign up for those by clicking here and choosing the NewsCONNECTION list. If you’re looking for even more reporting, you can find the official news feed at UMnews.org
But what seems to be a common feeling among these additional observers was expressed by Rev. Sara Shaver District Superintendent for the Dothan District. “I love the United Methodist Church. “And this love is calling her to action. “I wanted to be here in support but also to hear and see first hand the proceedings of General Conference.”
Rev. Frederick Outlaw says he “wasn’t present in 1968 or 1972 for the merger of the Central Jurisdiction, Evangelical Brethren and the Methodist Church.” But that “it appears we are at another crossroads.” A lot has changed in terms of technology since those other historic gatherings in the 60s and 70s that could enable you to not miss being part of this one.If you were not able to make the trek to Saint Louis as an in-person observer, you can follow along as an online observer, all of the conference is being streamed live.