Dear Friends,

This is the week of Annual Conference in Salem, Oregon.  Helen and I are leaving Wednesday morning and will return Monday evening (June 18).  Yes, we will miss the excitement of day 1 of Vacation Bible School!
I have attended every Annual Conference since 1978.  Partly because clergy are required to attend, but mainly because I wouldn’t miss it.  Over the years I’ve made a lot of friends (not too many enemies) among the clergy and laity of Oregon-Idaho.  Going to Annual Conference is a little like going to a big family reunion.  But I always need to remind myself when I tell others about Annual Conference that they haven’t attended 35 in a row so I shouldn’t assume you even know what I am talking about.
Annual Conference goes way back in United Methodism.  It’s the annual meeting for each of the Annual Conferences (yes, the term Annual Conference refers both to a geographic region and to an annual meeting — and I know that’s confusing)  across our denomination.  Our bishop presides, usually preaches at least once, we typically bring in  a “big name” speaker or two, we have wonderful worship, various presentations about what is happening in Oregon-Idaho, and we discuss and vote on legislative matters.  It’s actually a lot of fun, which leads me to what I want to say next.
We need someone to go to Annual Conference to represent this church.  Jim Waters has been our “lay member” for a number of years, but his term is ending, and we need someone to take his place.  Jim will be at the US Open Golf Tournament instead of Annual Conference this year.  He feels bad about this, but not too bad. He found out he had this opportunity too late for us to find someone to go in his place this year.  But next year, and for the next several years (a four year commitment is typical), is Annual Conference something that might interest you?  It’s usually in Salem but next year it will be in Boise.  The unofficial dates are June 13-16, 2013.  We do keep in our budget some money for the reimbursement of most of your expenses in attending.
You need to know that our lay member of Annual Conference is first nominated by our Nominating Committee and then elected by our Charge Conference.  Just volunteering to go does not necessarily mean you will be the one selected to go.  But I’d love to know who might be interested. Even if you’re not entirely sure but would be willing to pray about it.  It really is a privilege to get to go.  Thanks to Jim Waters and those who preceded him for representing us so well in the past.  And thanks for replying to me now, before you change your mind, if the possibility of going next year intrigues you.
In Christ, Pastor John Watts