The legislative part of Annual Conference was last Saturday, July 18th. It, like everything else these days, was drastically different. The fact that it even happened in July instead of June, the fact that it was one day, from 9 am until 5:15pm, that we were on Zoom and VVoter from around the state instead of all being i in one location. The other part that has been different this year, is that our various worship services that we have throughout annual conference have taken places over different weekends beginning in June with the last one happening yesterday (memorial, retirement, and 2 ordination services). Some things about his year's annual conference has been appealing, the sheer fact that it cost less, it cost less as a conference, the cost was less to individual churches, and the cost was less for participants. Our footprint on the environment was also less. However, so was our ability to see people face to face, to talk with those who were at our tables, to be able to network with others during meal breaks, etc.
Since then I have been thinking about how annual conference could be in the future...could we do a hybrid of virtual and togetherness, meaning could we go to different locations, where there would be more of us present, but we would connect with the whole through the internet? Could we meet together for one day, at a location and hold the business part, and have the worship services at another time? You see when we were met with having to do things differently because of a virus, then we were no longer tied to we've always done it this way, or this is our way (ritual) of doing it.
It reminds me of some of what we have had to do as a church. Just when we hit a rhythm life throws us curve balls, and we figure where we are going from here. But one thing I know is that God is always there, and God continues to meet us where we are no matter what comes our way.
(As a side note if you want to read a really good recap of the Annual Conference business I recommend reading Bishop Laurie's wrap-up: https://www.iaumc.org/newsdetail/bishop-laurie-reflects-on-the-2020-iowa-annual-conference-14135147?fbclid=IwAR2vidAYx5PBeoGor_JVDCu2rTBAR4Gt1uAHqOGfTrz_1JXiSTa-lByYO2w )