I Speak in Favor of One Conference in Nebraska and Kansas #kwc12 #gpgp

English: , located on west side of just north ...
English: , located on west side of just north of the Nebraska-Kansas border in southern . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today was my first time to speak on the floor of annual conference. While it was not exactly what came out, this is what I prepared:

My name is Andrew Conard. I am a clergy member of the annual conference.

I am currently serving at Church of the Resurrection in the Kansas City area and will begin serving at First United Methodist Church in El Dorado beginning July 1.

I speak in favor of forming the Great Plains Annual Conference.

Since its statehood more than 150 years ago, Kansas has been a place of action, a place where people could rally around a cause. Whether it was the abolition of slavery, settling the untamed prairie or recovering from disaster, Kansans mobilized around the cause and demonstrated great leadership abilities.

This is the time to demonstrate leadership in the United Methodist Church on the Great Plains. The annual conference exists to equip the local church for ministry. Becoming one annual conference in Kansas and Nebraska creates the best opportunity for the conference to fulfill its purpose on the Great Plains so that all of our local churches can make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Since I was first appointed to serve in Kansas in 2006, I have prayed every week for three things: the mission and vision of the local church where I serve, renewal within the United Methodist Church and spiritual revival across the state. I believe that forming the Great Plains Annual Conference is the next faithful step in our life together of living God’s dream for us as United Methodists in Nebraska and Kansas.

Members of my family are active in the United Methodist churches in Norwich, Plains, Sterling, Burdett and First-Hutchinson. My father is a United Methodist pastor and his father was a United Methodist pastor. The Kansas West Annual Conference is my home.

The month before we began to serve under appointment in Kansas, my wife and I were driving to Colorado on our honeymoon and we made a point to visit two of the churches where my granddad was appointed – the United Methodist Churches in Tribune and Towner on the Kansas / Colorado border. It was a blessing to step into those sacred spaces. I am proud of the United Methodist lay and clergy people who have come before me and been a part of faithful and fruitful ministry all across this Annual Conference for decades. This annual conference is part of who I am.

The Great Plains Annual Conference will be a change. There is no way around it. I believe that this change is the next faithful step in our life together as United Methodists on the Great Plains. I pray that we will continue together in faithful and fruitful ministry.

One hundred years from now, I want the people of the United Methodist Church in Nebraska and Kansas to look back and remember 2012 as a milestone in our lives together when courageous United Methodist took action that fanned the flames of spiritual revival across the Great Plains.

I urge you to vote in favor of forming the Great Plains Annual Conference.

4 thoughts on “I Speak in Favor of One Conference in Nebraska and Kansas #kwc12 #gpgp

  1. Way to go, Andrew. We are so lucky to have you coming to First in El Dorado. Some day you will be a Bishop if that is what you want. Blessings.

    Dave Matthews

  2. Andrew, as a person in a conference that is considering merger, I would be interested in hearing more specific reasons as to why merging the two conferences would enhance the mission of the church. There certainly is a belief these days in our church that consolidation is better in that it improves efficiency and cuts down on duplication. And yet, what I have experienced is that moves in this direction often minimize the importance of context, attempting to fit people and resources into a box that may neither appreciate or be appropriate for their situation. What worries me more is that the consolidation of conferences (such as the Memphis/Tennessee merger we’re facing) erodes the ability to build needed relationships of trust between clergy colleagues. When we are so big it’s tough to know one another, and what I saw in the large conference in which we served while I was in seminary, that fed the move towards factions simply because our lack of knowledge of the other made demonization much easier. So, is bigger better? It may be, but I’ve not yet heard how that consolidation really provides for renewal at the local church letter. What do you see in this that really enhances ministry in the local church.

    1. Jay, the building of relationships across a large conference needs to be intentional. Here in Tennessee I’ve appreciated how the Turner Center at Vanderbilt has brought together many of the young clergy of both the Memphis and Tennessee conferences.

      In Michigan, where I am a member of the Detroit Conference, there has been much done to intentionally connect the clergy orders, the youth and young adults, and many other groups. Although a merger in Michigan failed by seven votes several years ago, I believe we may yet find renewed energy for a stronger partnership in ministry.

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