My children, Cooper and Aiden, born and raised UM with more UM clergy-folk in their bloodline than they deserve, aren’t always able to be at Annual Conference, but they made a brief appearance this year for the memorial service to honor the life of their grandfather, the Rev. Bill Tate. They didn’t entirely understand the gravity and weight of the service they were attending and that’s ok. They’re 8 and 11. As they were waiting on the business session to end and the memorial service to begin, huddled in the hallway at the convention center, they bubbled with excitement (of all things). On the other side of the door, where business was occurring (likely something very dry to them like the lengthy CFA report), were ‘their people.’ Being raised PK’s, passed around clergy meetings in diapers, and hopping, every few years, from church-to-church and town-to-town, attending most Annual Conference sessions, they know people. People know them. More importantly, they love people and people love them. They were overwhelmed with the excitement of seeing “Mr. Josh” (Josh Shaw) who’s known them since I carried them in my womb, and their “Uncle Will,” (Rev. Will Clark, who’s not at all their uncle) who’s toted them to soccer games and played babysitter when we’ve needed extra community. Their excitement made me excited, because I was reminded, in them, that we are a connectional church and, as it should, that filters down to our families — to our children — who are not only the future of the UMC, but very really the present UMC. THEY are excited. They are LOVED. They are of sacred worth and they know it and this UM pastor-mom couldn’t be more grateful.

I’m grateful for a Church that loves my children — that celebrates their presence and gives them a reason to be excited about being the church and staying UMC.