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DYK - What goes on behind the scenes?

Posted: May 3 2018 at 08:32 AM
Author: Rev. Arlene Christopherson, Ass't to the Bishop/Dir. of Connectional Ministries


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Check-in for the 2018 Annual Conference begins on Sunday, June 3 as we prepare to launch the 179th session of the Northern Illinois Conference with a Service of Ordination. The theme for this year is “Navigating Uncharted Waters” and while we talk, pray, and learn with one another about all the uncertainties in our world and for our denomination, there is one thing that is certain – we will be prepared for the session, 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, plans the registration, creates the worship services, orchestrates the agenda, keeps us on track, decides the music, schedules the presentations, and more? Some of this is obvious to conference attendees but much of the work of designing and executing a large meeting with multiple moving parts is done by multiple committees, staff, and professionals.

It is Bishop Sally Dyck who keeps us on track, presides at the annual conference, guides and approves the work of committees and leadership. But 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. The Annual Conference Committee is charged with oversight of the work. The Worship Committee is made up of many subcommittees that recommends the theme, designs the three major worship services, the visuals of the session, and oversees the music.

The Credentials Committee monitors the attendees to be sure we have the right balance of laity and clergy and that those voting are qualified to cast a ballot. We have a Bishops Appeal Task Force related to the year’s specific appeal. There is a general usher coordinator, worship usher coordinator, Conference Secretary, conference secretarial pool, a Consent Calendar Committee, Childcare Committee, Daily Procedures Coordinator, Parliamentarian, and site volunteers.

These committees are supported by the professional work of conference staff. Our Events Coordinator – Laura Lopez, Media Specialist – Megan Casey and Director of Communications – Anne Marie Gerhardt work to provide an efficient, user-friendly registration system, web interface with all the information, multiple points of communication and Annual Conference materials. The Bishop's Administrative Assistant, Marva Andrews, and the Director of Connectional Ministries, myself, work with many groups and organizations on this massive coordination effort. In addition, the Administrative Offices provide the financial underpinning's for registration and technical services.

Undergirding all these moving parts is the contracted support of an events planner, media company, worship/music director, and musicians as well as the vast array of the hotel staff.

So, when you walk up to the table to pick up your name tag and event booklet for the 179th Annual Conference, remember all those who are behind the scenes. While we “Navigate the Uncharted Waters” of our future, our gathering is in good hands!

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