Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Saturday at Conference

Wow! What a day. After a year of waiting, thinking and preparation, Conference has finally arrived and only now have I had enough time to write a little about it.

The business of Conference starts in the same way every year, and usually I’ve been part of it. Not this year, I waited outside in the corridor with David during the first half an hour of introductions, but finally we were ushered in to our respective standing votes. We were now duly elected as President and Vice President and there was to be no going back. My first act was to welcome the ecumenical representatives and then the inter-faith representatives. I spoke about my time in Manchester as a student when I was able to experience the wealth of different denominations on Sunday mornings. Following this David gave his address, focusing on Safer Space, which was very well received. I hope you take the chance to read it as it contains a message we all need to hear.

After a break we started the second session by welcoming the World Church representatives, and it was particular good to be able to welcome Bishop Raf Opoko, who is now the Secretary of Conference of the Methodist Church of Nigeria. He had been the chaplain at Uzuakoli Leprosy Centre when we were in Nigeria and it was good to meet up with him again.

It was then my turn to address the Conference. My theme was "God calls us all". It was hot in the hall but very hot on the stage, but I managed to get through my address with only a few fumbles, including promoting the Leeds North East Circuit to a District. I did apologise to Liz, our District Chair. The address seemed to be appreciated by the warm applause that followed. I hope it will start discussions both in the Conference and around the Connexion, although I know not everyone will agree with what I said.

The day concluded with a reception where David and I were able to meet with the many friends and family members who had come to support us. It was a good end to a great day.

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