By Joan Holms
May 11, 2016 | Seattle, Washington

I needed to return to Seattle on Tuesday, the opening day of General Conference. I had attended the Annual Meeting of the Association of Annual Conference Lay Leaders over the previous three days and enjoyed the community of deep support that this group provides. On Tuesday morning at 7am I found myself in a conference room at the Marriott with delegates and guests from the Western Jurisdiction. There, we had time for only a brief discussion of legislative committee work as we began the important work of building relationships. And then, I got into my car and headed home.

PNW Conference Lay Leader Joan Holms
Joan Holms

I admit it felt good to be alone for a few hours as I embarked on the 3 hour drive. Once home I settled into my recliner with a cat on my lap and began to watch the proceedings on my laptop. Opening worship was just beginning. I found it beautiful and uplifting and I can only imagine the deep impact on those in the room.

Today, I listened to the words spoken by Bishop Palmer and viewed the debate of many matters with a particular interest in the discussion of Rule 44. It was on this day that I realized something is missing for me. Community.

I needed someone to turn to and nod when the message lifted my heart. I wanted that person next to me, whose thoughts mirrored mine, as our own Rev. Mary Huycke gently encouraged delegates to remember Holy Conferencing as they had experienced it just yesterday. (Yes!) But without someone with whom to share these “aha” moments it all just sort of fell flat for me.

I can’t wait to get back to Portland tomorrow – to my community – and share these holy moments with them. And when General Conference 2016 is behind us I will return to my home church where that community will care for me and I for them as we continue to be the church in our neighborhood.

General Conference can be frustrating and fun, energizing and exhausting. That’s the thing about community, it’s all wrapped up together. Let’s make sure we don’t let each other miss those holy moments where the Spirit is apparent. That’s the beauty of community. Thanks be to God.

Joan Holms currently serves as PNW Conference Lay Leader. Previously I chaired the conference Commission on Ethnic Ministries so my focus often tends to be on inclusiveness and diversity in our work as a conference.


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