The theme of General Conference 2016 is “Therefore, Go!” But no doubt, for many delegates to this historic, global gathering of hearts, minds and cultures, the clarion call from God may sound more like, “Therefore, Grow!”
Members of our Eastern PA Conference delegation were asked to share personal reflections on their growth experiences there. Here are two offerings from lay delegates Clarita Krall and Krystl Johnson.
The worship experiences at General Conference have been glorious. The music is outstanding. A choir of Korean voices, known as “I Solisti Roma,” brought me to tears with their rendition of “Laudate Dominum.”
I have thoroughly been inspired by the preaching of the bishops each and every morning. They are calling the General Conference to be inclusive of all people.
The elephant in the room from the beginning of the General Conference has been a non-discussion of human sexuality. Finally, on Tuesday the 17th, the General Conference asked the Council of Bishops for its leadership in moving The United Methodist Church forward in this great divide.
On Wednesday, the bishops came back with a plan, a process calling for a time of prayer and discussion among the delegates seated together. It was the first time that our Eastern Pennsylvania Conference delegation actually shared our personal stories with one another. I was most grateful for that time to finally be able to share my story and to hear the stories of the delegates, whom I have grown to love and respect as we have been preparing to serve in this delegation together over the past months since our election.
Krystl Johnson, of St. Daniel’s UMC, Chester: (She reacts to her first-time experience of addressing the General Conference when she presented part of the Global Ministries Legislative Committee’s report on May 17.)
This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (John 15:8)
Yes! It was exciting to address the general body and to serve as a subcommittee chair for the Global Ministries Legislative Committee. There is no greater joy than to be used by God. As a first time delegate, I could never have imagined that God would use my voice and share my gifts of leadership and compassion in this venue.
Preparing for General Conference was a lonely process and at times challenging because I sacrificed quality time with family and friends. Nevertheless, I see it was all part of God “calling out,” separating, and elevating me to a position where I could represent Christ and the Church. He’s calling us all to be. It’s always been about Jesus Christ! Because I was brought here by way of a Spirit-led mission, I could not be the background to somebody else’s roar! I thank God for being a God of Strategy.
I laugh to myself remembering how nervous I was before I boarded my flight to get here. But now I cannot find a trace of that anxiety anywhere. I attribute it to the prayers of others advocating for the powerful Spirit of God to show up on my behalf.
The texts of encouragement from family and conference members watching from home, and knowing members present there were praying for every word I uttered, were all a reminder of what God said to Moses in Exodus 4:12, “Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.”
In my spiritual reflections, it was revealed to me that God has been preparing me for this time. The anonymous recommendation for me to lead in opening General Conference was just one of the things God used to help point this out to me. Carrying the Christ candle during opening worship reminded me of my sealed commitment to let the light of Christ shine through me.
I remember the first symbol of my commitment. It was when I ushered in the Spirit of the Lord as a child acolyte at my church. I carried that light into my teens when I then joined and became actively involved in The L.I.G.H.T. (Living in God’s Holy Temple) Youth Ministry. I am blessed as a young adult, because I am still carrying that light now as the leader of this ministry.
Lastly, I was delighted to see Bishop Weaver present at General Conference. When I was a teen, he took particular interest in the youth at my church after our Music Minister, Praise Dancers, Christian Steppers, and Righteous Rappers led worship for the Eastern PA Youth Annual Conference.
Bishop Weaver wanted to know who we were, how we were, and what we were doing through St. Daniel’s UMC in Chester, Pa. It has been an amazing experience to be in his presence and in the company of the entire Council of Bishops in order to provide an update on the initiatives and intentions in the life, missions, and ministries of the UMC.
Keep up-to-date on the latest happenings at General Conference, as the time of adjournment nears this evening.