Spring means many things. Easter, Mother’s Day, graduations, and the Missouri Annual Conference. Have you ever wondered how Annual Conference (AC) began? The high-level beginning of the UMC Annual Conference is explained below:
John Wesley developed the term “holy conferencing” to apply to a group of preachers he identified to form the “core” of the 1744 Methodist movement. In essence, John Wesley mirrored the process that Jesus had defined to carry the Church forward through the Disciples. In 1744, the conference became an annual event for both laity and clergy connected with John Wesley.
Wesley foresaw that strength could be gained by relationships formed with consistent gathering and holding each other accountable. (The Connection)
Eventually, the “core” group of pastors grew to include the pastors and specific laity leadership roles at the AC meeting.
The purpose of AC is that it serves as an organizational and geographical body of the United Methodist Churches that work together for connection, accountability and collective decision-making. From an organizational and geographical standpoint, those Missouri (geographical) churches that are United Methodist are in 1 conference, and there is one AC gathering – typically in June. In Missouri, the Conference equips churches, clergy and laity – to be outwardly focused and spiritually centered Christ followers (providing guidance/direction). The June 2023 AC event will offer an opportunity to both participate in the business decisions of MOAC and connect with other UMC laity and clergy.
If you are attending MOAC in St. Charles, know that it is the first time the event has been held at this facility. It is important to consider the following:
- Three “Know-Before-You-Go” emails will be sent to the registered attendees. Read these closely.
- The Conference workbook will be available to download (in early to mid-May).
- Spend some time getting familiar with the information contained there.
- All the business that will be voted on is detailed in the workbook.
- Voting credentials will also be explained in the workbook and on the moacinfo.com website.
To vote, bring a device with internet access to AC, such as a computer, tablet or smartphone (mobile).
Details for the AC special offerings will also be in the workbook or on the moacinfo.com website.
There is an online pre-Conference briefing on May 25 from 10 am – 12 pm. Plan to attend or watch the video that will be made available afterward. The briefing agenda includes the following:
- The conference team reports that require no vote necessary during the June 9-11 event.
- Preview of the upcoming session
- If you are a first-time attendee, I strongly recommend the First Time Laity Lunch (Friday, 6/9).
- Register for the luncheon as part of your event registration.
- The Lay Leadership team will share guidance and hints for getting the most from AC.
- Many times, there are guests who attend AC. Guests will sit outside the area designated for voting members of the session.
- Finally, plan to arrive a bit early in St. Charles. It is a new venue for us all!
For those who have chosen to watch from home, the live stream will be available on the moacinfo.com website.
The Annual Conference is an opportunity for all laity to be connected in some way during our conferencing time. We hope you will participate in our connectional system not just now but throughout the year!
Jai Vaughn is a Northwest District Lay Leader at Good Shepherd UMC in North Kansas City. Jai has a heart for equipping leaders and building connections between the laity in our conference.