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First Hand Experience: Diane Schobert

February 20, 2012

I have been a lay member of the United Methodist Church since 1969 and my faith has grown through nurture and support of many faithful members and leaders – both lay and clergy from the small children in my small local Sunday school to the Episcopal leaders across the world.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf addressing the 2008 UMC General Conference

I have been active in the WI Annual Conference for a couple of decades and in 2008 was elected as the First Reserve Layperson for General Conference. Many people encouraged me to seek this election. A very dear friend said that it would be like getting my PHD in United Methodism- in a very short period of time. And truly he was correct.

It would have been impossible to imagine, in advance, the depth of the daily work, especially the legislative sessions that began early in the morning right after worship and proceeded through to the late night. They were very long days! Over time, I think it is crucial that we be sending younger delegates who can “handle” such a workload.

Worship within the UMC has always been very meaningful to me but I had never experienced such beautiful powerful worship as that of the General Conference 2008 in Fort Worth, TX. The breadth of the music, the visual art and most of all the extremely passionate sermons by the many Bishops of our denomination all left a lasting impression in my heart and soul. I often think of those days and wish some of that passion could be “bottled up” and shared over and over in our annual conferences between the General Conference sessions. I also would like to see the leaders of the delegation be able to share much of what they learn and experience at GC/JC more visibly within the Annual Conference when they return.

I do think that it is very important to prepare yourself for such an experience as General Conference. It appears to me that this delegation is working very hard at doing just that and also by connecting with many groups, organizations and individuals prior to their work at GC and JC. My prayers and wishes for continued blessings are with each of the delegates.

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