By Shari Goodwin and Holly McCray
Nine young adults stood quietly on the perimeter of seated delegates in the big ballroom. For hours, they were on their feet as the business of the South Central Jurisdictional Conference rolled on July 19-20 in the Cox Convention Center.
They hustled to act if a delegate, bishop, or official beckoned. The nine were pages, volunteers who delivered smiles along with messages on the convention floor.
The Host Planning Committee had embraced the idea to intentionally invite young people from both Oklahoma conferences to serve as attendants. Jennifer J. Long and Chebon Kernell coordinated them.
"The opportunity will have a profound impact on them for years to come," said Rev. Kernell.
Jalisa Ross said, "I didn’t realize how dramatic our conferences are. God works through the conference, but some of the people are very ambitious. People in the local churches don’t see that."
Added Reece Player, "It’s encouraging to know that the UMC is a large, united church even though we do have differences."
"I’ve been involved in my own church and at the annual conference," said Sean Crews, "but it’s really cool to see the UMC working at the next level up."
Newlywed Sarah Thornhill said, "I never realized how a bishop becomes a bishop, and how the church operates on a grander scale."
She continued, "It’s neat to see how God can move through rigid rules and methodical ways, like how we decided to keep our commitment to the mission project and then the last bishop was elected so quickly. That was encouraging.
"I would certainly do it again, as long as I have comfy shoes."
Jami Moss commended the delegates for lifting up one another and the planning committee for creating an affirming environment.
"I was surprised by the reception I’ve gotten from people," she said. "It shows the love of Christ. It’s Wesleyan theology embodied in the people called Methodists."
A collection to help offset the pages’ expenses totaled more than $3,400.