The Great Lakes Unity Regional Conference is fast approaching September 23- 26. I have always been a big fan and supporter of the Regional Conference, and this year is no exception. Our theme this year is “Rollin Together Serving Each Other in Unity”. Our conference team has put together an outstanding event headlined by our keynote presenter, Rev Charline E. Manuel, who will lead us in a variety of interactive experiences. Our musician, Marylyn Epps, personal philosophy is it is all about music, love, and faith.
This year’s conference will be in a new location at the Stoney Creek Hotel and Conference Center located in Moline, Illinois, on the banks of the Mississippi. An exciting new twist is our Wednesday evening dinner and dance will be on a 3-hour riverboat cruise on the historic Mississippi. This is all exciting and I look forward to the keynote and music but what really excites me is the opportunity to deepen and strengthen old connections and make new ones. The People’s Convention is good, packed full of important and exciting information and programs. But, for people like me who tend toward introversion (I know that is hard for some to see) and with a mild case of social anxiet, the Convention can be a bit much. It is difficult to slow down and have an in-depth conversation, because there is so much to do and so many people to see.
At conference I can take the time and have breakfast or lunch with an old friend or simply take a walk. I value the opportunity to reconnect with classmates or get to know a new minister or spiritual leader in the Region I have the honor of being the current Regional President and having the time to hear the concerns, struggles, and needs of our members as well as celebrating the successes. It is all invaluable in order to better understand how we might better collectively serve each other. One other thing I value about the Conference is, I believe, a more inclusive venue for all our ministries. The cost of the Conference fee and rooms are less expensive and for many it is within driving distance saving the cost of the air fare. I know there are many of our smaller spiritual communities that the cost of convention is prohibitive or the individual has to pick up the cost out of pocket. I believe the conference is a good alternative for all our ministries to connect and deepen the relationships within our region. It is so easy to feel as if we are alone out here. Conference reminds us we are not alone and there is support and encouragement available.
This year’s Conference will be exploring how we can collectively work together to learn and grow together. The Board is committed to better serving all our members no matter the size or economic conditions. The Board is looking to create ministry mentors, better cooperation, and collaboration between different ministries. I will be listening to understand and implement creative strategies that support our member’s health and potential. I look forward to seeing you at the end of the month.