Submitted by Rev. Dr. Don Longbottom, Conference Minister
Excellent music, some really good food, prophetic preaching, the folks from New Orleans did themselves proud. Despite a couple of small hiccups, the Jung Hotel was a delightful location. Ron Buford was simply, Ron Buford and the love was flowing. The Annual Meeting was, in my humble opinion, a huge success.
If I had to pick out one particular area to lift up about this year’s meeting, it would be the quality of our time in fellowship with one another. During the entire meeting, I did not hear a single word spoken in anger or derision. There was peace in the valley but it wasn’t the peace of apathy. It felt like a common cause and compatible vision. For two days we moved, breathed and had our being in the peace of Christ.
My favorite time of the conference meeting was the Friday night banquet. First, the food was delicious. It was some sort of pork loin, perfectly cooked and immersed in a heavenly sauce. Notice the baptismal motif, lol. But the best part of the evening occurred while the band was playing and the singer was joined spontaneously by first one then a couple more members of the audience. It was amazing. For someone whose singing ability is the reason why there is an off switch on the microphone, it created a moment of naked envy and awe. But singing is only one of many things I cannot do well. Returning from the “boy’s room” I found a large portion of the dinner party up and dancing around the room in a kind of “conga” line. Recognizing my need for dignity, I quietly took my seat. When the line “snaked” its way past my table the reverend from First Congregational Ft. Worth issued a rather forceful invitation, “Get your “@*%” up here and DANCE.” As Pumbaa would say, “Oh the shame of it all.” Actually, I got up and danced or at least what passes for dancing. I had a great time.
As in all things, there were also moments of sadness. Your former Conference Minister Douglas Anders is continuing his battle with cancer and is now on experimental chemo. Rev. Ron Trimmer was unable to attend as he needed to stay home to take care of two sons and his wife Jan who in on hospice care due to cancer. Our prayers go out to both of these and their families.
Many people contributed to the success of our time together. If I begin to name them I will miss some so let me simply say, “Thank you,” to the many. You all created a deeply meaningful moment in time and that is a good thing. One name I will mention is Stacey Silvey, my Administrative Assistant. Stacey put in long hours during a time when she didn’t always feel well. She is a treasure to this conference.
So, until we meet again, to all of you I say, “See you next year in Houston.”
Peace and Joy,
Here is a book I utilized in my report to the conference and that I recommend to all. I will write about this important book in my next article. Pivot to the Future: Discovering Value and Creating Growth in a Disrupted World by Omar Abbosh, Paul Nunes, Larry Downes