In the Wetherspoons across the street from James Watson Hall (where we stayed), I would gather to decompress with some friends I had met during the week. One night, someone asked, ‘Will you do this again?’ My answer is yes, I would do it again. Or, at least I would like to be around it again. This past year was likely my best bet to get there as a representative. Next year I’m not putting myself forward because I will be in the middle of packing for the move. But, it is in Southport (about an hour away) and it will be an opportunity to go down there for the parts I especially enjoyed: the opening of conference, the ministerial session communion service, some of the fringe events, and hopefully catching up with people I met this year.
OK, being away from my family for 8 days and the stifling heat of the Guildhall while some got up just to hear themselves talk could be mind-numbing. I remember someone asked, ‘Do you miss your family?’ whilst in the middle of the day. I answered yes, but at the moment I felt so comatose I didn’t know if I felt anything. I felt as if I couldn’t remember a time when I wasn’t sitting in there. Thankfully, there were some more interesting debates that livened things up.
But, overwhelmingly I loved the atmosphere outside of the business sessions. The worship (organised by Micky Youngson) was the best of Methodism and a great mix of traditional and contemporary. The President and Vice President’s addresses offered a vision of God’s love. The Archbishop’s address was challenging and comforting. The fringe events and stories from other people showed exciting things happening in other parts of the church. All this made me rethink how I have viewed my time in the Methodist Church and has given me a new way to look at my ministry in the future. I have hope for the future of the Methodist Church.
Most of all, I enjoyed meeting the people at Conference. I got to hang out with other ministers and just talk without the worry of ‘being too busy’. I got to meet folk from my own district that I would not have otherwise met. That was probably the best part. So, maybe I will get to go again, but I will need the time to recover!