Several of my colleagues, and even my parents, noted how silent I was at Annual Conference this year.
It's not unusual for me to be at the mic saying something on any given year.
But not this year.
Reasons? I don't know, maybe because there was no room for anyone other than the same three or four voices who seemed to find their way to the mic with every issue.
It was ridiculous, bordering on embarrassing.
No, that wasn't it. There was something more going on, at least in me.
I was observing. Listening.
I spent most of it in the back of the room.
I watched the work of my people. And they are my people.
I'm a child of this Conference.
The soil of my soul is from West Tennessee and Western Kentucky.
I love them.
I don't agree with 'em on a bunch of things, but I love them deeply.
And I think they love me.
I was watching. Thinking. Listening - measuring what I was witnessing with my Conference, which, by any objective measure, can be called a system under stress, with what I needed to do or say.
But the troubled waters of our lives needn't be a bad thing. There is a new day coming, and soon.
Juxtaposed with the concerns of our Conference is clear evidence that something is emerging. There are reasons for hope.
There is a remnant - and as we know from Holy Scriptures, that's enough.
And amidst all the fears that pervade, I couldn't help but think of the keen opportunity that is mine to serve a Church that is defying the odds of urban churches, and doing so in extraordinary fashion.
What, I wondered, of my experience at Saint John's, informs the fears and concerns of my Annual Conference? At first blush, maybe not much. But since I've been home, a vision is beginning to coalesce.
Over the next few posts, I'll be reflecting on episodes at annual conference and considering them in that light.
Whether or not it's efficacious to the Conference, or, to any of you who read it, it is at least good for me to go through the exercise and write it.
Stay tuned . . .