The word “confer” is a grammatically rich one, depending on whether there is an object involved with it. As you English majors will recall, used transitively (with an object) the word suggests the bestowing of an honor on someone, as in, “The school conferred upon her an honorary degree.” But when used intransitively (without an object), it means to come together for a discussion or a deliberation.
Both usages have been on my mind as we move toward our Semi-Annual Church “Conference” next Wednesday, July 29, at 6 p.m. As with every such conference, we will receive reports from key committees and updates on future ministry plans, as best we can provide them in this season of COVID. But unlike past conferences, our deliberation will not happen in-person. Like most church meetings that have been held over these past months, we will have come together for this one by way of ZOOM, a web-conferencing platform that allows us to have our meetings virtually.
Here's how this summer’s Semi-Annual Church Conference will work. Next week, we’ll send out a church wide email with a web link and password for the meeting. On your computer, tablet, or smartphone, you click the link and enter the password (if needed) and you’ll be able to join the gathering. While most of us have been on enough ZOOM meetings to have developed “ZOOM-fatigue,” others have not yet attempted to participate in one. So, these instructions will be vital for those persons.
I had given serious thought to cancelling this summer’s meeting. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that a cancellation of this bylaw-directed event would be tantamount to “conferring” upon this coronavirus a status we cannot allow it to possess. Enough has been cancelled over the last months, and no doubt more will be cancelled in the months to come. But our conducting this summer’s Semi-Annual Conference can be yet another way for our church to say that we will do our best to carry on our work and maintain our policies and procedures despite this challenge that has come our way.
Think of it along the lines of our conferring upon Christ our commitment to be his people, celebrating what his grace has enabled us to accomplish in these first six months and dedicating ourselves to leaning into its power for the next six months, and beyond. Join us in this important time. Your “presence” and participation will be a way for you to confer your appreciation upon our church as well, and it will reflect your resolve to help us to remain faithful in our mission to love God and live with grace and generosity.
“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).