Yes, I know that I became a Bishop last July but every new Bishop knows that Annual Conference is where you “earn your stripes.” Annual Conference is where you spend the most time with the largest concentration of folks from every corner nook and cranny of the episcopal area. Annual Conference is the place where you are on full display as “the leader.”
As you can imagine my anxiety level was extremely high heading into the first session. Adding to my nervousness was the fact that I had surgery on my right eye on Tuesday. I was basically operating with one eye. Not exactly what I had envisioned (pun intended).
I am so thankful that the Lord has provided a great team of lay and clergy leaders. Several times I heard them say, “we’ve got your back.” I experienced a group of dedicated, hard-working folks that made my first Annual Conference a success. Hindsight reveals that it was silly of me to be on edge because everyone else knew what they were doing. I was the only rookie!
Quarterbacks are not very effective when they don’t have a good line or superior players at the skilled positions. God has blessed the IGRC with a wealth of terrific leaders and I became the beneficiary of their gifts and talents. I know that the team that surrounded me saved my bacon and made me look good. The Lord also answered the multitude of prayers that were offered on my behalf.
There was also another important factor that contributed to the success of this Annual Conference and that was the graciousness and patience of the delegates and visitors. I love being here in the IGRC. My experience across the Conference was reconfirmed as I led the sessions and walked the halls of the Convention Center. The IGRC is filled with folks that are passionate Christ followers and folks committed to The United Methodist Church.
Thanks for your enduring perseverance in dealing with this rookie Bishop. Thanks for making me feel welcomed as your episcopal leader. Thanks to everyone that stepped up and pitched in to make this Annual Conference a success. Thanks to the staff and volunteers for “having my back” and my front, too.
Most of all, Thanks to the Lord for sending the wind of the Holy Spirit to fan us into flames and fire us up for Jesus.