Wednesday, April 25, 2012

General Conference

Yesterday we zipped home to Tampa again. We picked up the boys a bit early from school, grabbed some lunch for the grownups and hit the road. We met Uncle Daniel in Brandon and he took the boys home to play with the cousins while Daryl and I headed to the Tampa Convention Center for a very unique opportunity.

Worship began with a welcome and blessing by two members of the Maskoke Nation of Florida representing our Native American roots in this area. The gentleman in the purple shirt is a graduate of Harvard Divinity school and is a UM pastor out in Oklahoma now.

There were lots of other interesting things going on in worship: the processional of all the bishops (active and retired) onto the platform, a liturgical dance from a baptismal font in the back to the altar area in the front symbolizing our journey of discipleship, the mass choir made up of lay people from churches throughout the Tampa Bay area, a wonderfully passionate sermon by Bishop Larry Goodpaster of the Western North Carolina Conference, and several of our bishops leading us in the communion liturgy. There are only 1,000 voting delegates, but there were 4,700 people in worship yesterday!

What struck Daryl and I the most was getting a glimpse at the global nature of the UMC. Over 40% of the delegates are non-English speaking. There were headsets to help simultaneously translate for these folks. And there were several times during the worship service - from Scripture readings, to the Lord's Prayer, to even singing the first verse of Amazing Grace - where folks were invited to lift up their voice in their native tongue. Those were Holy Spirit moments hearing the beautiful sound of the mixture of languages being lifted up to God. We were thankful for the opportunity to get to participate in even a small part of General Conference. 

Afterwards we headed back to Seffner. By now the boys were with Grandmommy and Granddaddy, since Aunt Dawn and Uncle Daniel were off at their college class. We picked up the boys and went for a visit to see Grandma at the rehab center before heading back to Ocala. We made it back safe and sound at 9:30pm - 8 hours after leaving town!

* Disclaimer - All these pictures came from the United Methodist New Service feed. We were seated way in the back of the area, about four rows from the top of the bleacher stands. None of the pictures we took from that far back turned out very well. 

No comments: