By Megan Kilpatrick | WJ Lay Delegate
It started with a fairly innocuous question: “What do I wear to General Conference?”
True to my Millennial roots, I put my question out on Facebook for advice. People were kind an generous with their responses. Someone said the dress code for the conference center is ‘business casual’, so no ball gown. I was told that I would be taken more seriously if I dressed up more, which ruled out the footie pajamas. But we are in Portland, so maybe socks with sandals would be okay?
I don’t mean to be glib about this. In fact, it was in asking this question that I realized that I really have no idea what I’m getting myself into. This is my first General Conference and the longest amount of time I’ll be away from my family. The days will be really long and full of meetings, committee work, and plenary sessions. There will be lots of difficult discussions about difficult issues. I’m excited, but also a bit apprehensive–not all debates will be peaceful, and not all conversations will be kind. In preparing myself by studying, praying, fasting, and reading, the planning of what to wear was almost completely forgotten until I realized it was time to start packing!
At one of our first delegation meetings last summer, we heard how delegates from other countries might wear clothing styles traditional to their culture–how some of them might pick out different outfits to wear every day, or have clothes specially made for their trip to America and General Conference. To them, this was an opportunity to showcase their country and culture with pride. They might be delegates to General Conference, but they are representatives of the communities they call home.
We will all be taking pieces of home with us to General Conference, and we will be representing the churches and communities we are from. I hope our delegation makes you proud, and that the work we do truly reflects God’s love and grace and hope for our church and each other. We will be taking you with us, through your prayers, notes of encouragement, and many, many climate vigil lanterns.
This is your church, and your General Conference. The work that we accomplish in Portland will determine what kind of church we will be in the years to come. I pray that we make a new community of brothers and sisters in Christ, and that our work is fruitful.
But I’ll still miss my jeans.
Megan Kilpatrick is the mother of a very rambunctious toddler, other half to her husband, and Clinical Nurse Specialist (RN) who helps nurses reach their fullest potential. She spends most days juggling, putting out fires, and walking on tightropes, but in her spare time she likes to cook, craft, and get outside.
Photo Credit: “Jeans” by Flickr user Shaury Nash, CC BY-SA 2.0.