I’ve spent the past 12 hours on the road from Nashville to a somewhat run down Howard Johnson’s in Ocala, FL on my way to GC2012. I’m certainly not unique for there are United Methodists from all over the country and the world who are beginning to descend on Florida (like a band of locusts?) for the 2 week endurance race that is conference.
In all honesty, as I prepared to leave, the situations at the church that I serve and with my family made coming to Tampa difficult. General Conference is an interesting thing because the folks left at home to hold the fort together while the delegates and staff are gone don’t really understand what an ordeal two weeks in Tampa can be (…you’re in TAMPA after all!!!). Those of us making the trip to Florida leave loved ones and staff at home to assume our normal duties while we are experiencing (if not enjoying) the communion that comes with gathering together with several thousand folks who share our passion for the church.
General Conference is hard on all — both those coming and those left behind — and ALL involved need your prayers and support. Congregations need to understand that your pastor is not on an extended vacation, and that his or her spouse is doing the single parent thing for two weeks. Pick a night and take the family a meal or offer to babysit so that the “single” spouse can find some breathing room. Most of all, bathe your missing staff or lay folks in prayer, send them notes of support, and help them to realize how much you appreciate their service on behalf of our church.
Tomorrow morning I’ll head into Tampa and the work begins in earnest.