Rio Texas Annual Conference 2019
With Pastor Paul Harris
Every year, lay and clergy delegates from the churches of the Rio Texas Annual Conference gather for worship, learning, and business in a 3-1/2 day conference. This year the conference was held in Corpus Christi, Tx from June 5-8. Joyce Schupp served as Lay Delegate from Hunt UMC.
The conference is an event and a conversation. Conferencing is a practice started by John Wesley in England to provide annual conversation and evaluation of ministry among the pastors of the people called Methodists. Conferencing continues today as delegates gather to enter into conversation with the resident Bishop and each other in setting priorities and budgets for shared ministries.
The conference is the connection of United Methodist churches and the ministries they share together in the south and central Texas areas. The conference includes clergy persons Methodists call ordained Elders and Deacons (servings as local church pastors and church staff specialists), Licensed Local Pastors, clergy serving in Extension Ministries, and retired persons from each of these clergy groups.
This year’s Conference Highlights included the election of Lay and clergy delegates from the Rio Texas Annual Conference to serve at the General Conference 2020 (global church conference) and at the South Central Jurisdictional Conference 2020 (regional conference which establishes conference boundaries and elects bishops to be assigned in the jurisdiction).
We also experienced several very meaningful and spirit-filled worship services opening the conference, honoring in memorial pastors and family members who passed since the last conference, a celebration of retirement for pastors and spouses who elected to retire this year, and the commissioning and ordination of new clergy into the Annual Conference.
For the most part, this conference was very similar to other Annual Conferences I have attended in 19 years as a pastor and 15 years as a Lay Delegate. But there was also something very different about this Conference.
We celebrated our “connection - the shared ministry of disaster recovery, border ministry, transforming communities, new church starts and revitalized churches, fresh expressions of ministries, a new non-profit lease of Mt Wesley, and much more. New items but similar successes in the connection.
And then there was an undercurrent of change and the evidence of new construction within the leadership of the Annual Conference. A much younger delegate group was elected to serve at the 2020 general and jurisdiction conferences. And leadership expressing moderation and inclusion.
I am encouraged in the outcome of the Annual Conference. And I give thanks for the opportunity to serve under appointment for another year in West Kerr County and as pastor of Hunt UMC.
Along the Way
Author: Paul E Harris
Journal posts from a pastor and spiritual friend