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Did You Know? Behind the Scenes

Posted: April 25 2023 at 01:36 PM
Author: Arlene Christopherson, Director of Connectional Ministries

Christopherson Arlene

Rev. Arlene Christopherson

The upcoming Annual Conference registration deadline (May 28) is approaching quickly, and we are working hard to have everything ready for the June 6 opening session. This year’s theme is “Connected in Christ: Come to the Table.” While we talk, pray, and learn with one another about our mission as the United Methodist Church in a world filled with uncertainties, there is one thing that is certain: we will be prepared for the gathering, thanks to the many, many hours of volunteer and staff time that goes into making our annual conference a hospitable, comfortable, well-run event.

Who comes up with the annual conference theme, coordinates the venue, runs the registration, creates the worship services, orchestrates the agenda, keeps us on track, decides the music, schedules the presentations, designs the slides, edits the videos and more?

Much of the work of designing and executing this large meeting with multiple moving parts is done by multiple committees and many staff members.

It is Bishop Dan Schwerin who keeps us on track, presides at the annual conference, guides and approves the work of committees, and shepherds our leadership. Behind the scenes it takes a community of dedicated, creative volunteers and attentive staff to host this important annual meeting.

It begins with committees. Like any good United Methodist organization, our annual conference is supported by a variety of committees. There is an Annual Conference Committee charged with oversight of the work. There is aWorship Committee that is made up of smaller groups that design the three major worship services, plan and create the visuals, and oversee the music. There is a Credentials Committee that monitors the roll to be sure we have the right balance of lay and clergy members and that those voting are qualified to do so under denominational rules. There is a Legislative Sections Committee that recruits and trains those leading these sections. There is an usher coordinator, conference secretary, conference secretarial pool, daily procedures coordinator, parliamentarian, Accessibility Committee, display-table team, and site volunteers.

These committees are supported by the work of conference staff. Our events coordinator, Bri Wadlington, communications specialist, Lisa Smith, and director of communications, Victoria Rebeck, work to provide an efficient, user-friendly registration system, web interface with all the information you need to participate, multiple points of communication, and Annual Conference materials. In addition, the Administrative Office staff provide the financial unpinning for registration and technical services. The bishop’s administrative assistant, Marva Andrews, and the district administrative assistants work with our database and provide up-to-date information concerning conference membership. As director of connectional ministries, I work with many groups and organizations on this massive effort of coordination.

So, when you walk into the conference center on June 6 and pick up your name badge and event booklet for the 184th Annual Conference, remember all those who work hard behind the scenes. While we are Connected in Christ and Come to the Table, gathering to commune with one another, our gathering is in good hands.

Thank you to all those who make it so.

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