One of the things that United Methodists do each year is gather together at Annual Conference. (One of the most confusing things about United Methodists is that we also call the geographical areas that the institution is divided into the "Annual Conference." What? I know. How can a place be "annual"? Well, the term comes from this meeting, also called "Annual Conference." Confused yet?)
Pastors and lay delegates from all of the local churches in Northern California and Nevada are currently in Sacramento. We do a lot of sitting, a lot of talking and listening (some do more of one than the other), and a lot of voting. The challenge every year is to be sure that we aren't just voting based on what we want, but based on where God leads.
Holy Conferencing is a spiritual practice that allows us to hear God through one another. So, when someone that we may not know (or like) speaks, the discipline is to be open to how God is speaking through their words. Sometimes I don't hear it, but sometimes I do. And many times the holy part comes in the singing or the prayers or the silence in between the words. I'm listening for it with burning ears this year and hoping that the 50 days we've spent "catching fire" leading up to this Annual Conference will make a difference.