Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The global and the local at Annual Conferences

Today's post is by UM & Global blogmaster Dr. David W. Scott, Assistant Professor of Religion and Pieper Chair of Servant Leadership at Ripon College.

It's Annual Conference time again in The United Methodist Church. For many, this is a much-anticipated (or much-dreaded) time to reunite with, confer with, and sometimes fight with other pastors and laity from within the geographic bounds of the conference. For us here at UM & Global, though, it means slow news days. Now that I've been moderating this blog for a few years, I can confidently proclaim a trend: during the first few weeks of June, there are fewer stories from around the global connection circulating through United Methodist news media.

That's not to say there are none, as proved by these two great stories from this week about the work Africa University grads are doing throughout Africa. But after a spring when there were almost more stories from outside the US or on transnational issues than I could read, let alone analyze for the blog, the hopper is currently a bit empty as United Methodists focus inward during this time of conferencing.

Yet because of the connectional nature of the UMC, this focus inward during Annual Conference season is not entirely separate from a focus on the global church. While it may not generate stories through UMNS, the global is present at Annual Conference meetings in a variety of ways:

1. Many Annual Conferences are going to be taking up further collections as part of their drive toward denominational goals for the Imagine No Malaria global health initiative.

2. Bishops, pastors, professors, and others from around the UMC and even from non-UMC sister Methodist churches will be preaching and presenting at Annual Conferences other than their own.

3. Many Annual Conferences will consider supporting (or opposing) resolutions related to the various plans for global reorganization of the denomination that will be debated at General Conference 2016.

4. Annual Conferences will be hearing from mission partners located and missionaries serving around the world.

So, as you're coming home from or heading off to your Annual Conference, ask yourself: Where is the global in the local in this year's meeting?

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