Bishop Adam J. Richardson, Jr.
Presiding Prelate 11th Episcopal District, AME Church

In the long tradition of Methodism, the Annual Conference is known to be a time of reporting on our stewardship in ministry. Historically, the Conference also seems to have anticipated an extraordinary time of spiritual renewal, refreshing, and retooling for ministry when the Conference was called into session. These twin purposes suggest ministerial and congregational accountability as well as discipleship necessity. In every generation since the first Annual Conference each has been entered with an eye towards a future with excellence.

Social challenges and civic engagement have kept us busy; personal issues and sins have kept us anxious and on edge; ecclesial duties and professional expectations have left us exhausted. This year has been especially stressful. We need Annual Conference.

It is therefore my duty and delight to call itinerant and local preachers, licentiates, missionary and lay leaders, component executives, lay delegates and youth leaders into this historic series of Annual Conferences in the Eleventh Episcopal District. We pray that all who attend will find inspiration, motivation and a renewed sense of "calling" to be a blessing in our assignments.

We still affirm that every occasion of our gathering provides an opportunity for spiritual reaffirmation and intellectual stimulation. Attendance in the Conference Institute is to be considered mandatory. The first day will be devoted to the Misconduct Policy for Recertification per Discipline. The second day will call attention to the Eleventh District Dashboard: What, How and Why.

Administrative Reports are expected to provide recommendations to facilitate our work in the Conferences. Literary Reports should provide action items that will help our constituents address our collective concerns such as civic engagement on education, health disparities, health insurance, health and wellness initiatives, mass incarceration (the new Jim Crow), homelessness, community revitalization, the national economy, domestic violence, youth violence, gun violence, illicit drug use, HIV and AIDS, responses to public emergencies, war and terrorism. Add to these a deliberate focus on evangelism and worship, with a special focus on attracting, retaining, nurturing and ministering to youths and young adults in congregations over the full expanse of the Eleventh District.

Mrs. Richardson and I covet a daily interest in your prayers. Pray that the Conference will not be met with business-as-usual drudgery, but that the presence of our strong and awesome God will show mightily among us in every Conference in every sermon, every song, every act of praise, every teaching moment, and that we would be blessed with wisdom in the guidance of business affairs. Pray for a fresh anointing in the places where we serve. Pray that we will Exalt Christ, Expand His Church, and Empower His People in all that we do.

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