Well, it's been a while since I last recorded my thoughts. Or even first recorded my thoughts! But I have spent the last week in Southport at The Methodist Conference, so I thought I would use that to start me off again. I shall try to make this a reflection rather than a narrative of what happened! To find out what happened visit http://www.methodistconference.org.uk/ where you can also watch sessions back online.
First off, I think it is worthwhile saying this year there were more young people at conference than in recent years. It might even have been the most at conference as representatives! This gave me great encouragement, and gives me great hope. It was wonderful to be able to spend so much time in fellowship with other young people, as well as engaging with those not so young! Conference really affirmed my Methodist values of Connexionalism and the fellowship you get from it.
It was wonderful that the President and Vice President put such a heavy focus on worship and prayer throughout the business of Conference. We were encouraged to talk to and then pray for people around us at the end of each day. Delegates were also given a 'twin'. These were randomly selected pairings, who we were encouraged to pray for throughout Conference, and meet up with them if possible. This quite clearly added to the feeling of the Holy Spirit being present in our conferring all week.
Conference has got to be heavily business focussed, 900 pages of agenda sees to that nicely! But it is great that there is so much discernment happening at Conference too. It is great to see so many different people rising to speak. Some people do this more than others, whilst others leave a bigger impression than others. I don't think anyone will forget the passion that Mavis(??) spoke with to one of the Youth Assembly resolutions. I know I won't, having to respond about the resolution after she had spoken!
I have been inspired and encouraged by Conference 2011. The General Secretaries report was most certainly the best report I have read from the Methodist Church in a long while. Calling for vision, and risk taking! Concepts widely welcomed by members of Conference, though we are still cautious in some areas.
And no reflection on Conference 2011 could ignore the presence of social media. This was the 2nd time that Conference was streamed online, with some great results (http://www.digital-mission.net/archives/659). It is great that more and more people from across the Connexion can become connected with Conference. Through the internet we were also reaching out to those who are not Methodist, and showing them what we stand for. Particularly on topics such as Big Society, and Poverty and Inequality. It has also been a great catalyst to connect Methodists, and non-Methodists who share similar views, to start working together. There has already been a new hash tag created, only 24 hours after Conference adjourned.
Conference has been encouraging and affirming, a chance to come together with other like minded people (in Southport and across the Connexion) And to start conversations about how to move forward. Thanks to everyone involved!