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Rev. Bill Poland is in his first year as Assistant to the Bishop for Administration, and thus his first year in that role for the Annual Conference Session as well. He admits that this comes with at least a “slight case of nerves.”
“I’ll share that I have a little bit of anxiety because I’m in my first year in this role for this Annual Conference,” said Rev. Bill Poland. “But it’s always a good experience when we gather people together from across the conference to come together as the Annual Conference.”
“So I’m looking forward to that,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to put on the spotlight as we lift up strategic priorities to emphasize what it’s really about, and that is World Transforming Communities of Faith.”
Rev. Poland also looks forward to the opportunity to tell the story of those congregations that are really making a difference in their communities and to invite others to take part in that transformational process as Conference members seek to live out the will of God.
All of the milestones in ministry that Rev. Poland has had have been celebrated at Annual Conference, making the Annual Conference session particularly meaningful.
“I remember the first year that my candidacy was recognized in the disciplinary questions,” he said. “the first ordination to the office of deacon, the celebration of the retirement, and for some of the memorial service of persons who’d had a profound impact in my life and ministry.”
“All of those are measured at annual conference,” said Rev. Poland.
This is especially so, and full circle for him, with his daughter Andrea and her Commissioning and Ordination as an Elder and member of the Conference, and last year with his son Jeremy and looking forward to his Ordination.
“So very profound relationships, and the making all those relationships, rev. Bolan said.
For the first time attendees Rev. Poland said that it’s easy to “forget about why we are there,” or perhaps even misinterpret the reason.
”It’s a time for us to come together as an Annual Conference and to remember that we are connected to one another,” he said. “That we have a relationship that is real and organic and scriptural. That we are really at our best when we are together.”
“That relationship isn’t just something that is celebrated when gathering for worship or meetings as the Annual Conference,” he said.
”It really ought to be lived out all of the rest of the year as we relate to our United Methodist sisters and brothers in particular,” said Rev. Poland. “And by extension the other members of the household of faith.”
What happens at the tables is an aspect of the Annual Conference Session that is interesting, albeit something that is little known.
“If you take time to actually walk around, which as a Superintendent I had the opportunity to do, you see that frequently we’re not all engaged in the same things,” Rev. Poland said. “And that’s probably also true it comes to our visits to the microphone.”
“It’s a big meeting. It’s a big group,” he said. “And sometimes it’s hard for us to keep on focus. But that’s kind of the way families are.”
The big thing, he said, is to engage in the worship for maintaining connection and focus.
”That for me is the most centering part of Annual Conference,” said Rev. Poland. “And if you notice in the worship services, especially this year, as I talked about before about measuring those milestones, that’s what the worship services are about.”
The worship services of the Annual Conference session offer a message and connection.
“It’s an opportunity to hear some excellent preaching, and some of the profound…still it brings tears to my eyes every year, when you look around that auditorium and hear the blending of all those voices together.”
Togetherness and worship is something Rev. Poland finds to be significant. “I think in worship is when we’re at our best, and it’s a time for us to remember that we do belong together as the body of Christ and that together we have a witness to make and a world to impact.”