Kathleen Charles, a delegate from Freetown, Sierra Leone, speaks during the local church committee’s discussion of proposed legislation on April 26 during the 2012 United Methodist General Conference in Tampa, Fla. A UMNS photo by Paul Jeffrey.

General Conference 2012 has been a whirlwind since I arrived in Tampa earlier this week.  The daily schedule is packed with briefings, worship services, special events and legislative committee meetings. Throughout the 12+ hour days, there’s always opportunities to meet and dialog with delegates, staff, fellow volunteers, and reconnect with friends.  My highlight as we approach Day 5, has been the opportunity to connect with people in the moments of downtime at general conference: sharing a meal with sisters and brothers in Christ between committee meetings, making new friends when going from room to room at the Convention Center, to engaging and listening in on Holy Conversation.

It has been a blessing to attend General Conference as an oberserver/monitor for the National Federation of Asian American United Methodists (NFAAUM), one of five caucuses that are part of the Inter-Ethnic Strategy Development Group (IESDG).  My role as a monitor, along with 50+ other monitors from across the U.S., is to interact with delegates to hear and understand the importance of racial ethnic ministries as an integral part of our church and its ministry.  Our team has been observing and monitoring General Conference proceedings to become better informed and to interact with and assist Delegates in recognizing the importance of issues critical for the further development of Ministries.  It’s been great to exchange stories with friends from all over the world.

I look forward to my last few days at General Conference for more listening, understanding and learning, as petitions and amendments are being further deliberated on in full committee.  But I really look forward to the chance to connect and fellowship with friends and colleagues in ministry during these last few days.

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