Never before have I been so sure that I want to be apart of this denomination than I was last night at the Ordination/Commissioning service. But I am getting ahead of myself. The day began with me...sleeping in, again. I eventually got out of bed and made my way down to the conference center for the 3rd business session. I rode on our little shuttle with an older man who was talking with me about the Catholics and the fight against providing birth control to their employees, we had different opinions on the situation, but it did not stop us from relating to one another and developing a bond. I loved how kind he was in the way the way he disagreed with me, and I am grateful to him, because he showed me how our differences in age and race and theology and political beliefs don’t change the fact that we have the greatest unifier of all, the Holy Spirit.
I can’t really even recall what was talked about in the 3rd business session at all save for Gil Rendle’s speech, so I will skip to the 4th where are General Conference delegates and alternates told their stories. They all spoke about the harm that was done, to them and to others, but they spoke about the joy that was experienced there. Our Lay Leader told this story about how he gave his Christmas gift from his wife, a Stetson hat to a delegate from the Ivory Coast. That delegate returned to him the next day and handed him a shirt handmade that all of the Côte d'Ivoire delegates wore, and a whole role of more of the cloth from which women from our conference made bags which were sold here to raise more money for the UMC’s Imagine No Malaria campaign. Those bags raised over $4,300 so far.
Our Mid-day worship service was absolutely inspired. Rev. Jorge Acevedo brought the Word and when I say he brought it, I mean he BROUGHT it. I have never had my toes stepped on so hard, and been so challenged and yet inspired to share my faith with everyone I meet. Our gathering was moved to tears as he shared the struggles his son faces with addiction, and the heartbreak it brings him and wife, and we were uplifted as he shared how his church was and still is there for him and supports him and his wife through difficult times. He told our church that growth comes not through programs but through forming relationships with people then simply bringing them to Jesus. That sermon will be bouncing in my head for days.
One really special treat, I and my deacon, Abby Parker, got the opportunity to meet the woman who with her brother integrated the church where my church, Servant Church in Austin, is housed, Ms. Mae. She was so sweet and kind and she told these stories about how that church changed her life.
The Ordination/Commissioning service was so great. It was so beautiful seeing all of the ordinands kneeling and being ordained into the service of our Lord Jesus Christ and His Church. I was so touched by it all. The music lead us all into a mood of reverence and as Bishop Jim Dorff prayed he truly did usher us into a holy moment. I was most excited by the ordination of my church’s own Abigail Parker. It was so awesome, because I know how hard and how long she worked for this moment, and I was so honored and glad to be apart of it, even if all I really did was stand in support of her.