Once again Bibletimes Marketplace has been a huge success! We had well over 100 children and some 100 adults involved this past week singing, learning, doing crafts, having fun! It was great to circulate about and see the excitement and feel the energy. For some adults, this was their first year to volunteer, and they expressed amazement at what was happening. Thanks to all who gave of their time and efforts to make it a huge success!
This week I’ve been busy with the over 2000 delegates from all over Western NC who are gathered at Lake Junaluska for the 2015 session of the Western NC Conference. If you’ve tried to eat out the last couple of evenings, you know the delegates have filled the restaurants as well as the streets!
Our lay delegates are Judy LaFountaine, Lynda Leonard, and Grady Wiley. Mike Blackburn, Ed McFarland, and Jack Ewing are at-large lay delegates, and Jane Boatwright Wood is a lay delegate as District Lay Leader of our Smoky Mountain District. Becky Brown, Sherrie Shork, and I are our church’s clergy delegates. And our own Scott Taylor is serving as song leader for the services. So you see, we have quite a delegation there!
The opening worship service was Wednesday night. Clergy began meeting Wednesday morning with Bishop Goodpaster. Laity began meeting Thursday morning, and both laity and clergy have met since.
The primary order of business thus far has been the election of delegates—10 laity and 10 clergy—for the General Conference of the United Methodist Church next May in Portland, OR. Laity elect laity, and clergy elect clergy. Then, 10 additional laity and 10 additional clergy are elected as delegates to the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference in July of 2016 at the Lake—its major responsibility will be to elect and assign bishops. I’m delighted to report to you that Jane Boatwright Wood has been elected as a delegate to the Jurisdictional Conference.
Most of the services and sessions can be viewed streaming live at www.lakejunaluska.com, or by accessing it through the www.ac2015.org website, where you can also find schedules. Jane Boatwright Wood will deliver the Laity Address to the conference Saturday morning at 8:45, and former pastor Rob Blackburn will deliver the sermon for the memorial service later that morning at 11:00. The closing service is Sunday morning at 10:00.
Friday afternoon we’ll be voting on budgets and petitions to the conference. Friday morning and Saturday evening, persons will be entering ministry through commissioning and ordination.
Our bishop has led us in prayer for the families of those gunned down at Emmanuel AME church in Charleston. What an unimaginable act. The Council of Bishops of the Southeastern Jurisdiction have issued a statement of support, and Bishop Goodpaster promised to write the AME bishop to assure our prayers and support. Please keep all concerned in your prayers.
After conference concludes, my sabbatical-vacation-renewal-study leave begins! I’ll be keeping you in my prayers and spending some of that time in planning for the next year. Remember, if you have requests for something you’d like me to address, let me know!
You’ll enjoy a lineup of great preachers during the coming weeks. This Sunday Wilson Strickhausen will be your preacher, so be there to worship if you’re in town!