A brief conversation that just happened at the parsonage:
James (8): "Hey Mom, are we having a babysitter tonight?"
Mom: "No, why?"
James: "Because you and Dad are cleaning."

Haha!  Funny kid!  Chip off the ol' block!

No, we're not going out tonight, just getting ready to head out of town for a week following worship Sunday.  Yes, following worship.  I know someone will still say to me Sunday, "I thought you weren't going to be here today."  After worship we'll travel to Wichita Falls for the North Texas Annual Conference, returning Tuesday evening.  Wednesday morning we'll take off to Bay City-- the boys going with Mom and my sister, and her three boys, to the beach for four days; Christy and I spending three days and two nights in Houston; and Dad at home alone, not counting two dogs.  I'll leave it to you to guess who will have the best time!

Every year I enjoy Conference more.  In years past, it seemed like all business and little ministry.  When I was a candidate for ministry in the Texas Conference, Christy and I would sit in the balcony of FUMC Houston, the non-voting section, because I was not a member of the Conference then.  In 1997, many of my friends were ordained Deacon; I was not.  So I went to that Conference that year with a sense of joy for them, and hurt feelings for me.  The next year I was ordained Deacon, and many of those friends were there for me.  And we were all ordained Elder together in 2001, a night I will never forget.  Several staff friends from Oak Lawn UMC, where I served as Associate Pastor, made the trip to Houston for my special night.  As a token of remembrance, they gave me the black leather hymnal I use Sunday mornings for singing or Communion or Baptism liturgies.

A few years ago a contigent from our church attended the ordination service at Custer Road UMC to support PUMC's former pastor, Doug Fox, at his ordination.  This year in Wichita Falls, several of my friends will be ordained, including Rev. Marie Mitchell, who did an internship with me at my former place of service.  Serving as Marie's Supervising Pastor will always be one of the enduring joys of my ministry.  We look forward to Pastor Samantha's ordination in a few years.

Of course, Conference is more than ordaining pastors; there's the aforementioned business: statistical reports, hearing about ongoing ministries of the Conference, and voting on legislative items, including budgets, recommendations, etc.  This year a major proposal is coming before the Conference for approval: a realignment of Conference districts and resources to help us better fulfill our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.  If you're interested in learning more about that, visit holyconferencing.org.  There are also wonderful worship experiences, including the service of Ordination and Commissioning and the Memorial service (for pastors and clergy spouses who died since last year's Conference).  The opportunity to hear from retiring pastors, including former PUMC pastor Larry Kruger, is not to be missed.  Always great humor, memories, and stories!

Since Pastor Sam was officially appointed to PUMC as a Local Pastor last summer, we'll have an extra lay member of Conference, Larry Clark.  Other PUMC members of the Conference are Judy and Lloyd Rucker and Bill Wiley.  All will have an opportunity to share brief reflections of Conference at worship June 13.  One of the final events at Conference is the reading of the appointments.  Last year we heard Samantha Parson's name attached to PUMC; this year her name will be attached to Chambersville/Cottage Hill Charge.  We are proud of her, thankful for her ministry among us, and wish her and her family well.  Don't forget the Brunch for the Parsons after 11:00 worship June 20!  My name will once again be attached to PUMC-- officially for the fifth time.  Let me say now how excited and proud I am, along with Christy, James (the oh so funny kid), Miles (himself a jokester), and Linus (who may be the most outrageous of the three!), to be returning as a part of this congregation.  This is going to be a great year!