This week is Annual Conference, the yearly gathering of the pastors and representatives from all the United Methodist Churches in Minnesota. This is the first in-person conference since COVID so I am excited to see friends I haven’t been with in three years. I am also excited because my son Lee will be ordained there in St. Cloud on Tuesday night.
Ordination is a little different in the United Methodist Church as it is the end of a process rather than the start. Most Methodist pastors begin as a local pastor then perhaps become a commissioned pastor and finally become an ordained pastor. In this way, ordination is similar to tenure–it’s a recognition of demonstrated commitment and effectiveness.
Another way that ordination is different in the United Methodist church is that it is not done in front of a local church but is done in front of persons from all over that state at Annual Conference. Every year it’s a highlight to see people respond to God’s call and become licensed, commissioned, or ordained pastors.
In the “old days” pastors went to conference not knowing what church they would be serving for the next year. The bishop would read off the appointments at the end of conference and many pastors were expected to pick up and move to a new church by the very next Sunday. Fortunately, it no longer works that way and Julie and I will continue to be your pastors.
Another change is that conferences have become shorter. They used to be a week. Now it’s just two days. (Note: while Julie, Dan and I are off at conference, the church office will be closed May 24 & 25.) We appreciate your prayers for us while we are away. Please pray also for all the newly licensed, commissioned, and ordained pastors–that they might be faithful in their service to God and find joy in their ministry.