We are at the annual conference of the Central Pennsylvania Conference this week taking place at Messiah College. We arrived yesterday to settle into our room and to attend a dinner with the Board of Ordained Ministry for those who are in the commissioning process along with their mentors.
Annual Conference began this morning with separate clergy and laity sessions. In the clergy session, Joleen and I were among those approved for commissioning as Provisional Elders in The United Methodist Church. We’ll probably say more about that at the end of the week!
As meaningful as that was, the real highlight of the day for us was serving as a “Gospel-bearing family” during the evening’s Memorial service where the three of us each carried Bibles to the altar during a song of preparation for the reading of the Scriptures.
We weren’t sure how Ethan would handle it — it was a long hard day spending part of the day in child care and later taking an abbreviated nap (unfortunately!) on the balcony as we took our place with the writing staff of the “Daily Link” (the daily newspaper of annual conference).
At the last minute, we decided to see if Ethan would walk, carrying his small Bible. We figured if that didn’t work, we’d pick him up and carry him. When we first got into the aisle and Ethan took my hand, he froze for a moment, then proceeded to walk forward. He also climbed the steps under lots of pressure as well over a thousand people watched! When we got to the back of the stage, I placed the large pulpit Bible on the altar, then lifted Ethan so he could place his Bible on top of the pulpit Bible; he knew just where to put it even without a practice run-through! (Thanks to Michelle Bodle for taking the photos.)
Today was a day of remembering and celebrating our calls to ministry. It was also a reminder that our family is the most important ministry we’ll ever have!