For all of my time in ministry, the first week of June has meant one thing: The Memphis Annual Conference would be in session either in Jackson, Tennessee, Paducah, Kentucky or Memphis, Tennessee. But not this year! Because of a variety of reasons, the 2016 Sessions of the Mem-phis Annual Conference will be held on June 19-22 at Northside United Methodist Church in Jackson, TN. The last five years have seen Annual Conference to be a particularly hectic time for me. I was asked to serve as Conference Secretary, which among other duties involves sitting on the platform at all Annual Conference sessions and assisting our bishop. I have done this for one session with our interim Bishop Chamness, and this June, I will do so for my fourth session with Bishop McAlilly.
Annual Conference is a time when lay and clergy delegates from across the Memphis Conference get together to worship, to celebrate the ministries taking place across the Conference, and to hear reports and plans for future ministry. Annual Conference is where retiring pastors and their spouses are recognized, and those just beginning in ministry are li-censed, commissioned, or ordained. For many, Annual Conference is like a reunion, a time for friends who do not see each other at any other time to fellowship and catch up. Annual Conference is also the time when, at the end, clergy and laity are deployed either back to their current charge, or in the case of some clergy, sent to serve a new charge.
There are always important legislative matters to be considered, discussed, sometimes amended, and passed. There is the Memphis Con-ference budget which is funded by the apportionments received from the churches of the Conference. This year, the Annual Conference is going to be making some major changes in clergy insurance and retiree benefits. These are done with the dual purpose of being financially responsible to the churches of the Memphis Conference and caring for the active and re-tired clergy of the Conference.
Benton First United Methodist Church is ably represented at An-nual Conference by our delegate, Brad Colson, and if Brad is unable to at-tend, Theo Gammel is our reserve delegate. I would like to ask you to ex-press your appreciation to Brad and Theo for their willingness to serve you in this way. In addition, Dianna Colson, as Purchase District Lay Leader, is also a delegate to Annual Conference.
+ David Russell