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Tips for Annual Conference 2022

Friends greet at Annual Conference 2019

Annual Conference is coming June 2-4. Laura Witkowski understands that some are excited about annual conference and some are overwhelmed. She offers some tips from 22 years of personal experience.

Associate Director for Lay Leadership Development

The Michigan Annual Conference is coming!

Real talk – some are feeling excitement around this, others are feeling somewhat overwhelmed around this. All of it is valid.

If you’re new here, welcome! The annual conference (AC) session is the annual meeting of the lay and clergy members of the geographical area, currently the state of Michigan. Our time together typically includes reports of past and ongoing work; adoption of future goals, programs, and budgets in the form of legislation; recognition, commissioning, and ordination of clergy members as deacons and elders; appointments of clergy members, all of which the bishop presides over. More on this and other helpful information can be found in the Lay Leadership Toolbox – AC Member Guide.

Since we haven’t met in person since 2019, I thought it might be helpful to offer my own personal tips for getting the most out of annual conference as a lay person, well, maybe for everyone.

  1. Take a breath. “Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” John 20:22                                                  When you participate in legislative committees on either May 24 or 25, take a breath before you log on to Zoom. When you begin to pack. When you begin the trek to Acme. When you walk through the front doors of the Grand Traverse Resort, take a breath. When you are overwhelmed because you haven’t been around this many people in two years. When you must wait in line for meals and it’s taking longer than you’d like. When you don’t agree with the person speaking at the microphone. When you’re tired of wearing a mask. When you run out of time to touch base with that one person you didn’t get a chance to see. Take a breath. We’re all just doing the best we can.
  1. Take it to God. “Pray without ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17                                                                                                                    The world is broken. The church is splintered. People are hurting. And yet there are moments of joy. Prayer is always appropriate; intercessory prayer, a prayer of gratitude, all of it.
  1. Do your thing. “Each person will have to carry their own load.” Galatians 6:5                                                                                          The role of the lay person is an important one. Be sure you participate and take responsibility for having at least the basic information. If you have questions, ask! Your fellow attendees are on the journey, too! It’s important that you are informed on the legislation and information coming before the annual conference. If this is your first-time attending AC as a layperson you may be interested in attending the second Lay Member Orientation presented by the Board of Laity on May 19 at 7:30 EDT. Registered laity have been sent an email with more information and a Zoom link.
  1. Do no harm. “You must love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Matthew 22:39                                                                           Be kind. Love others. This applies to all things, people, facilities, God’s creation. Be kind to conference registration staff, hotel check-in staff, food service staff, housekeeping staff, fellow annual conference members, your pastor, your District Superintendent, Bishop Bard. Be kind to restaurant staff, golf cart drivers, younger persons, older persons, the person at the microphone, the person standing in front of you or sitting next to you, AND YOU. If you need a break or need some fresh air or need to care for yourself in some way, do that. Stay safe in whatever way that means for you.
  1. Have fun. Experience it, the good and the bad. “It’s better to enjoy what’s at hand than to have an insatiable appetite.” Ecclesiastes 6:9a                                                                                                                                                                                                     I know for some Annual Conference is hard, not always joy-filled, and sometimes a burden. But you’re there! So be there. This is somewhere around my 22nd Annual Conference (I include the two online and there’s a question of how many I made it back for in college). Even before I worked in ministry, some of my best memories are from Annual Conference. (I know, right?) I have shed many tears and had many laughs and made many friends. There’s something special about “these people called Methodists” being in a shared space. There’s something special about watching friends, colleagues, and strangers be commissioned and ordained, living into their calling. Meet someone new. Catch up with friends. Enjoy the beauty of Northern Michigan. It’s no secret that Annual Conference has the potential to be tedious and contentious, but don’t let that stop you from doing the work and loving your neighbor through it all.

Overall, give each other grace, and give yourself grace while we gather in the midst of all of these difficult circumstances. Remember who and whose you are. You are a child of God.

I hope we can connect and say hi at Annual Conference!

Last Updated on May 23, 2022

The Michigan Conference