General Conference a time for relationships

Rev. Skip Strickland and Rev. Megan Armstrong on the plenary floor of the 2016 General Conference in Portland, Oregon. Photo courtesy Megan Armstrong
May 11, 2016

Submitted by the Rev. Megan Armstrong
Clergy Delegate for Rocky Mountain Conference

Today was a time for relationship. As people settled in, new relationships were formed, old relationships remembered, and friendship strengthened. A fairly large portion of our delegation appreciated the close access to the Starbucks right across the street from the hotel and took part in some caffeinating before our 7 a.m. meeting. I watched Cathie Kelsey make a connection with a gentleman on the train who is participating in the conference by helping with the vast technology we are using. Voting, requesting to speak on the floor, and translations all are being done slightly differently this year than in the past and really making technology an integral part of the conference. 
Upon arriving at the Oregon Convention Center for the day, we headed into the plenary and there we reconnected with the gentleman from North Katanga Annual Conference in the Republic of Congo who are tablemates with Kunle, Harvey and me. We sang together in worship, enjoyed Bishop Gregory Palmer's Episcopal Address and shared in some learning across cultures to make sure we all knew what was happening in the business of the church.  
I watched Tiffany Keith and Kent Ingram engage in conversation and theological banter with Rob Renfroe. I saw a friend from Great Plains who was once a youth in my first youth group. Doug and Harvey shared their experiences of being a part of the Young People’s caucus. Judy and Ruth saw old friends and found places for conversation and connection, they were very happy with the comfy spots. 
Legislative committees started their time together by exploring questions about the Global Nature of the Church in small groups. With a diverse group we talked about what it means to be United Methodist in our context. We celebrated ministries and struggled with questions. 
We held one and other in prayer while we elected the leadership of the legislative committee’s, and while Tyler and Brad went to be trained for the positions they were elected to a group of our delegation went to dinner together to share in friendship and laughter and caring conversations. 
Bishop Palmer said in his address this morning, “We are here because we are prisoners of hope.” Relationships, friendships and connections are what brings me hope. It is in these that I find Christ in our world, and it is out of these that I see the transformation of the world.