It Has Been a Difficult Year
Annual Conference is upon us once again!  Clergy Conference happens on May 19th.  For those who are new to United Methodism, this is the time once a year when pastors and elected lay persons gather together to participate in what John Wesley (our founder) called “holy conferencing.”  Wesley believed that sharing your life and faith journey with other Christians was one of the ways that we experience God’s grace.
Wesley knew that devoting your life to Christ’s work could mean long hours and disappointment.  The year since our last conference has been particularly difficult.  We were unable to gather together in person  last year making it even harder. 
Way before the current pandemic, John and Charles Wesley knew that the only way we could continue ministry was through the Grace of God poured out on us through each other.  Once again, this year we will not all be in one place.  There will be no hugs or impromtu coffee conversations.  As much as I might have complained in the past about Annual Conference, I long for the time when we can all be together again.  
Singing “And Are We Yet Alive” at the beginning of every conference is a long abandoned tradition now, but it speaks to me more than ever.  As I hear your stories of joy and pain,  I give thanks for your faith, your ministry, and the hope that next year will be different - next year we really will
"see each other's face."
Verses 1,3,4
And are we yet alive,
and see each other's face?
Glory and thanks to Jesus give
for his almighty grace!
What troubles have we seen,
what mighty conflicts past,
fightings without, and fears within,
since we assembled last!
Yet out of all the Lord
hath brought us by his love;
and still he doth his help afford,
and hides our life above.
The United Methodist Hymnal Number 553
Text: Charles Wesley, 1707-1788
Music: Johann G. Nageli; arr. by Lowell Mason