Saturday, April 27, 2024

GC Week One Update

Charlotte is very welcoming of our gathering! 

Love this sign in the Exhibit Hall

One of the best parts is running into dear friends and colleagues from around the connection. 

This is Rev. Pam Cahoon and Bishop Charlene Kammerer (she was the first female district superintendent in Florida and has been such a support to my ministry). 

Kris Wise (seminary student from our district; we're the only two from the SW district here this week). 

Rev. Will Clark, chair of the order of Local Pastors in Florida. I was on the DCOM when he came through for licensing and have served on the BOM with him. Amazing human being. 

Rye Standifer from Community UMC. Rye was in our youth group and in high school when elected and is a college student who works at Disney now. They are one of our lay delegates to General Conference. 

Sean Pollock is the husband of my good friend Rev. Ellen Pollock. He is the worship leader at New Covenant UMC in The Villages. 

Rev. Tracy Hunter is one of my best friends. She is one of the reasons I didn't give up on ministry when I burned out while serving a difficult appointment in Hudson. She lives in NC now, and it's been so good to hang together for color commentary during the plenaries a few days this week. 

Beautiful prayer spaces in the Upper Room. I've been walking the labyrinth every day. 

The worship services have been awesome and amazing. so much diversity in music and in leadership (liturgists, preachers, etc). On Thursday we wore black to honor victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Bishop Latrelle Easterling preached a powerful sermon as witness that day that I highly recommend watching -

And on Saturday morning I got to enjoy handbells in worship as well as a powerful sermon by Bishop Eben Nhiwatiwa from Zimbabwe (who is also the president of the Council of African bishops). He called out the detractors of the UMC who would divide us and called us to joy. You can watch the worship service and his sermon here -

There has been lots of exciting things in the plenaries this week. Including hearing from Florida's own, Alejandra Salemi, giving part of the Young People's Address. She is a PhD student at Boston University and a candidate for ministry. You can watch here:

We moved forward legislation about worldwide regionalization of the UMC. Historic! 

Bishop David Wilson became the first Native American bishop to preside over a 
General Conference session!

And our own Bishop Tom Berlin led the Saturday morning plenary session. It was heavy on Robert's rules of order as we navigated nominations to the University Senate and Judicial Council. 

I sat in on the Ordained Ministry legislative committee as an observer to learn all the BOD changes that will affect my new job (Director of Clergy Excellence, starting July 1; in addition to the job I have now). Lots of historic work done here too removing harmful language preventing gay persons from being ordained or clergy from performing gay weddings. 

Florida's own Dr. Brett Opalinski (former BOM chair) praying before a committee session. 

One of the coolest things about GC is the work of the translators. They are in the plenary sessions and every legislative committee room, ensuring that our delegates from the Philippines, Europe and Africa can hear in their native languages in real time; and that English speakers can hear non-English speakers in real time as well. As we waited for a translator to show up to the room this week, the room broke out into song. We heard Blessed Assurance in Portuguese, French, Swahili, Russian and English! What a Holy Spirit Pentecost moment. 

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