I have been writing about the various ways we see General Conference. It is doctrinal authority, it is family reunion, it is business session and it is also a revival.
In the early days of Methodist Conferences in America—especially quarterly conferences—people experience justification and committed their lives to Christ. For believers, these conferences were times of spiritual renewal and significant spiritual growth toward entire sanctification.
This historic practice continues today in the form of worship services and prayer ministries that take place at our conferences. Here at this General Conference, the Episcopal Address, the Laity addresses, the Young Peoples’ address and the evening worship services have been powerful. During Bishop Weaver’s presentation, I was moved to tears and was reminded of why I accepted the call to preach and then the call to serve as a bishop.
Many persons see the actions taken in the business session or the teaching about our doctrines and feel either pleased or disappointed. However, those attending General Conference have also been influenced by the worship and teaching that will never be included in the Book of Discipline or Book of Resolutions. I think there have been many inspirational moments that have impacted the lives of all who were present and all who followed online.
I have supported the Call to Action. At every point, the leaders of that effort have been clear. General Conference’s actions can help us focus on our resources on increasing the number of vital congregations. But the most important steps we can take for this effort are not legislative. They are changed behaviors by bishops, District Superintendents, pastors, lay leaders and individual United Methodists. Thus, the revival aspect of General Conference will change hearts and minds and further our progress to the church we need to be in the future.