As of Tuesday, May 16, over 500 GNJ Annual Conference registrants were signed up to attend five diverse workshops on Monday, May 22, 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. It may be the most active hour of learning during the entire two-day conference at the Wildwoods Convention Center. (Members who have not signed up but still want to attend or change to workshops that are not filled may be able to do so onsite.)
The most active may be the Rise Against Hunger Meal Packaging Experience in the East Hall, where hundreds of volunteers will busily pack nutritious meals to serve communities struggling with hunger. Rise Against Hunger is an international humanitarian organization “growing a global movement to end hunger by empowering communities, nourishing lives, and responding to emergencies.”
Rise staff hope to welcome, educate and organize an assembly line of about 300 enthusiastic conference-goers to pack over 50,000 meals in this hands-on mission project.
A Prayer Experience, meeting in the Prayer Room (meeting rooms 2 and 3), may be active in a quieter way, as presenters Shawn Callender Hogan and Jeff Markay teach and lead attendees in a variety of prayer activities. Their workshop will engage hands and hearts in prayer practices, including a Taizé chant, with an invitation to reflect on God’s grace amid brokenness. The registration limit is 50 people.
In Bridging Beyond Our Walls, meeting in Ballroom B, attendees will learn about the Bridges Project, a Journey of Hope initiative that equips congregations with the tools needed to appreciate and engage in the diversity of their surrounding communities.
Alyssa Ruch, Director, will offer participants a glimpse of “the best of the best” of The Bridges Project and an opportunity to experiment with interactive tools for engagement, connection, and uncovering our “why.” Participants will leave with eyes open and hearts ready to engage in hands-on community-engagement practice.
“I hope some participants will join us to experience this journey in a future Bridges cohort,” said Ruch, who also directs Children, Youth & Family Ministries at Marlton UMC. The registration limit is 200 people.
In The Role of Congregational Leaders in a Vital Church, meeting in Ballroom A, the Rev. William Williams III will help members explore Christian spiritual and temporal leadership as crucial values of a vital congregation. “As communities and churches continue to change, a strong and meaningful strategic direction of the church is critically important,” says the Meadowlands District Superintendent and Regional Team Leader.
The workshop will focus on the importance of laity through their work on committees such as Staff Pastor Parish Relations Committee, the Committee on Nominations and Leadership Development, and other aspects of the church that help mold a church’s strategic direction. This workshop, with 141 registrants, the highest number, as of Tuesday morning, has a limit of 250 participants.
Financial Security for Clergy, meeting in Ballroom C, will explain to clergy and lay employees the voluntary United Methodist Personal Investment Plan (UMPIP). Bob Christophel, Wespath’s Manager of Benefits Education, will describe different ways to contribute to the plan, investments in the plan, and services available to participants. Individual benefit projections will be provided to those who register in advance. The registration limit is 140 people.
PHOTO: GNJ Annual Conference members will receive hands-on learning, as they pack meals for Rise Against Hunger, like these members of Trinity UMC in Hackettstown, NJ, did recently. Photo courtesy of Rev. Debra Vos