We indeed are "better together." Isolation and individualism undermine our better aspirations and potential. They are self-defeating. It is true in both church and society.
I frankly find this post-conference time exciting and exhilarating. It is energizing. A lot of that energy comes from your positive engagement of the mission. Conferencing apparently stirs many of us to think creatively about the future. This year is no exception. In the days following conference this year I have been inspired by those of you who have made contact to talk about your creative stirrings for ministry in our conference. These stirrings cover a wide territory from expanded opportunities for spiritual formation to deepening our partnership with Liberia and lots in between. And I say why not?
Bishop Palmer announces the theme and speaker for the 2011 Annual Conference.
Though the session is over, the robust energy and spiritual blessing abide. I pray the time on the proverbial mountain top will translate into continued fruitful ministry in all the congregations, ministries and communities of the Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference.
We started Annual Conference with many signs of faithfulness and fruitfulness. I am persuaded that the opportunity to celebrate and reflect together June 2-5 further positions us to have sharpened focus about the strengths we bring to address the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
In a few short weeks we will be in Peoria for Annual Conference. This is the 14th session of the Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference. Wow we really sound young don’t we? But if count figure our age from the oldest antecedent conferences this is session 188.
Could it be that we are really old, by some calculations? Or is the angle of view that we are new and fresh in ministry but we have a deep heritage? Not a bad position to be in. So from that bi-focal viewpoint we might sing with gusto A Charge to Keep We Have with a keen awareness that we are called “To Serve the Present Age”.
It will come as no surprise to you that this first year for me has been filled with learning. In one sense everything is new. Listening and inquiring have been my key tools to come to know the IGRC better. While I am still learning, I have learned much about what has been and what is. This learning has led to some thinking about the future.
Annual Conference 2009 is now over. It is history. But I believe that it will continue to inform our common life and witness for some time to come.
We have some important challenges ahead of us. Those challenges create unprecedented opportunities for us to be the church that God yearns for and that the world needs. I am excited about both the challenges and the opportunities.