These shots were taken this (Saturday) morning of General Conference 2019 in St. Louis. We are meeting at The Dome at America’s Center, the former home of the St. Louis Rams (who are now the LA Rams). It’s pretty amazing to be meeting in such a massive facility. It makes it look like only a few people are here, though there are thousands here. We’ll see how things fill up as business sessions begin. I imagine more will be here for “business” than for worship and prayer. That’s too bad. I’m proud of our delegation. They are all here and engaged. There are also an additional 30-40 reserve delegates and members of the Alabama-West Florida Conference here. It’s a great showing.
The other pictures feature scenes from walking into the building this morning. General Conference is a magnet for protestors and those wanting to lobby the delegation. You can see some people holding up or wearing signs about human sexuality. There were also persons handing out gloves and bags of “hugs and kisses” (the Hershey variety). Inside the dome around lunchtime a large group of LGBTQ supporters sang hymns.
Much of today was devoted to reading Scriptures and singing. Representatives from the different global divisions shared about the missional opportunities and challenges they have in their parts of the world. I am struck powerfully by the global nature and reach of our church. It’s easy to get so focused on my own local mission context and community that I lose sight of the vastness of God’s work. I’m reminded of the many times I’ve looked around Jordan-Hare Stadium during an Auburn University football game and looked around at the 85,000+ people and thought, “Wow, God knows all these people as well as he knows me AND he loves them just as much as he loves me.” Of course, the world is a lot bigger than Jordan- Hare Stadium. God knows and loves every person on earth just as well as he knows and loves me. That is at the same time both inspiring and humbling.
As I look around this dome at all the different people, I see a dome with lots of people all known and loved deeply by God. We just experienced that love at the close of worship as we gathered for Holy Communion. This final picture is of the Bishops who served me communion. Two from The United States and another from The Philippines who anointed me with oil. A reminder of the vastness of God’s church and world.