Every four years the Free Methodist Church, my denomination since age two, has General Conference, where rules and policies are discussed and sometimes changed, our three bishops are elected and/or reelected. I’ve been privileged to attend only four in my life, but each one was a highlight for me. The first two I attended were in Winona Lake, Indiana in 1960 and 1974. The next one I went to was at Anderson University in Anderson, Indiana in about 1996.
I seem to have unique, interesting experiences when I travel to General Conference, so here’s one. Later, I’ll write of another one!
I went with a friend, Wilma Kasten, to Anderson, Indiana. We shared a room in the university girl’s dorm. One morning we couldn’t get our door to open! We were inside our room, trying to get out so we could use the bathroom, down the hall, and then go to breakfast. The door would not open! We were trying, we were yelling for anyone going by to open the door from the other side, nothing worked! It would not open! Someone finally got ahold of maintenance and a man came with tools to open our door. It took a while before we were able to get out!!! A few years later, someone wrote about this in the Anderson University newspaper. Most of the details were correct, except for one! The article claimed “two elderly ladies were locked inside their dorm room!” Believe me, I was not elderly! Yes, I was at the upper edge of middle age, but I was not elderly!
This year, 2015, General Conference was in Orlando, Florida at Caribe Royale Resort. What a great place for General Conference! There were plenty of rooms for everyone to stay, there were plenty of meeting rooms, of several sizes, for large groups and smaller groups. The meals served, were great! The swimming pool, for relaxation, was fabulous! Haleigh and friends swimming.
I went to Orlando early because I opted to go on a missions trip, General Conference was offering, during the same week but ending the day before General Conference ended! When I arrived on July 8, there were many folks already there. Some were going on mission trips and some were there for special meetings before General Conference began. So I got in on the last day and evening of General Conference, and what a privilege! I saw so many folks, both before and after the trip to Haiti, that I’m privileged to know but seldom get to see.
Okay, I’ll share my second funny story here. I was going on the trip to Haiti with my granddaughter, Haleigh. We had traveled to Florida separately and she arrived first. She had been on a teen missions trip to West Virginia and went directly to Florida from West Virginia. I flew from Michigan and my flight arrived late. When I finally got to Caribe Royale Resort after midnight, Haleigh was waiting for me! We went to the desk to get our key cards for our room. We were so excited! Our room was on the ninth floor! We opened our door and oh my! “Haleigh,” I exclaimed, “It’s a suite, not just a room! Oh, it’s so nice! This is the living room and, just look at the bathroom! So clean and nice!” Then we opened the bedroom door and switched the light on. What?!?? Oh, no! Someone was in bed, asleep!!!
The person in bed woke up and said, “Oh, Haleigh, you’ve arrived! I’ve been expecting you!” What? What about me? She didn’t know about me! Apparently she and Haleigh were assigned this suite. There were two queen size beds in the room. I insisted I sleep in the living room on the sofa. (I wonder who I was assigned to share a suite with?!)
The fact that impresses me the most, about the Free Methodist Church, is that we’re a global church! Being at General Conference was an exciting time with folks from all over the world! “The worldwide Free Methodist family includes more than 1 million members in 85 world areas. Only 7 percent of Free Methodists are in the United States!” This is a picture of missionaries that were present at General Conference. I see our three bishops in the picture too.
To love God, love people and make disciples.
To bring wholeness to the world through healthy biblical communities of holy people multiplying disciples, leaders, groups and churches.
This I have copied and pasted from the Free Methodist Church website. I love my church. (I don’t know how to make the print smaller, or I would!)
- Myself and Pakep from Myanmar, The Myanmar representation and myself!
- My new friend, Jamie Piper from McPherson, Kansas and the new Bishop from Haiti, Bishop Eliodor.
- My good friend, Becca Doyle, missionary to Asia slipped in beside Haleigh and me during a service!
- A short but sweet visit with Bishop David and Yvonne Roller meant so much and was such an encouragement to me.
- Other friends I connected with were former pastors, missionaries, bishops, and friends from all over the USA and even the world! What a great time of fellowship with fellow Christians and fellow Free Methodists!
The music at GC15 was outstanding! The worship team led by David Gaulton was so good! The muscians played guitar, drum, violin, and I forget if there were more! They were excellent! The last evening we were favored with a solo by a black man with a beautiful, beautiful voice! He sang a hymn and I would love to have a CD of it! If any readers can help me out here I would appreciate it!
General Conference 2015 was a huge success! Our three bishops, Matt Thomas, David Kendall, and David Roller were all reelected. It was such a privelege for me to be a part of this very special event. The Holy Spirit blessed us with His Presence.