Lectures, yes, but they really like the fellowship
By Annette Bender
LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. - The Rev. Bill Rowland appreciated what the Rev. Lovett Weems had to say about leadership in his keynote lecture at Ministers' Convocation.
But like other Holston clergy members, Rowland quickly followed up his education-related statements with what seems to be the main attraction at the annual winter gathering: "It's a time of renewing old friendships and making new ones," said the pastor at Abingdon United Methodist Church,"because this and Annual Conference are the only times that we can get together."
More than 260 clergy members were pre-registered and still more were walk-ins at the Feb. 14-17 event, according to Wesley Institute Director Caryl Griffin. Participants could choose from workshops led by Weems, professor of church leadership at Wesley Theological Seminary, as well as those led by Holston's own the Rev. David St. Clair and the Rev. Brad Hyde. The theme was "Empowering Leadership."
Clergy seemed to relish opportunities for worship and devotions, as well as relaxation and fellowship. About 40 ministers joined an afternoon, three-mile hike through the Great Smoky Mountains, led by the Rev. Charles Maynard.
While visiting an old church with Methodist heritage, Maynard said the group paused to sing "Amazing Grace."
The Rev. Kathie Wilson-Parker, pastor at First Bristol UMC, said she gained insight from Weems' lecture on leadership.
"He emphasized that we should keep asking the Big Question, when we're upset about letting things happen, as we frequently are," she said. "And that is, 'How is God calling us to service in this situation?' "He reminded us that when we institute change, we like it. But when we're receiving change, we usually don't."
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