Houston to Host World Methodist Conference this August: Mobilizing Volunteers Now

Date Posted: 3/10/2016

For the first time in 35 years, the global denominational conference is coming to America – and Houston, so help the Texas Conference provide volunteers and southern hospitality.
When 5,000 Methodists from around the globe hit the city limits of Houston for the World Methodist Conference August 31, the Texas Annual Conference will be rolling out the red carpet, along with legendary Texas traditions including Bluebell ice cream, Mariachi bands,  some star-spangled American décor to celebrate the occasion. Additionally, hundreds of TAC volunteers are being recruited to make this historic conference run smoothly.
Some four years ago, Host Coordinator Rev. B.T. Williamson, Assistant to the Bishop, pitched Houston as an ideal destination for the conference, and has been helping coordinate the details ever since. “This is the quinquennial global gathering of the Methodist/Wesleyan family,” notes B.T., “and it will bring a mix of countries and cultures together to preserve and share a common faith heritage and work on behalf of social justice for all.” The conference provides a voice for the concerns of the denomination while promoting Christian unity. Previous conferences were held in Africa and Korea.
According to Jan Ervin who is assisting B.T. with the arrangements, The Methodist Hospital will be providing first aid for the conference and has funded many grants to enrich the event. St. John’s UMC Pastor Rudy Rasmus will be among the keynote speakers. In addition, attendees will enjoy a variety of dance demonstrations during Cultural Night, featuring the break dancing ministry from St. Luke’s UMC Gethsemane Campus, lyrical dancers and even some hoe-down moves from the square dancing team of Texas A&M University.
“Special music will be provided by Christian artist “Gungor” from California and the choir from Windsor Village UMC,” adds Jan.
Volunteers Attend at No Cost
“Volunteering is your ticket in,” shares Jan. Volunteer coordinators will be responsible for each of the activity areas and those coordinators should be contacted if you are interested.  There are six main areas where volunteers from across the conference are needed:

On Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday at the Hilton Hotel Americas,
20 people per day are needed in four-hour shifts: 8 am-noon, noon-4 pm, 4 pm–8 pm. They will help assemble bags, hand-out registration bags, may help some with registration depending on the demand, and greet arrivals and direct them at the hotel. 
  (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday - at least 2 people per shift,  4 hour shifts: 8 am-noon, noon-4 pm, 4 pm–8 pm at the Hilton Hotel Americas)  The Host Hospitality Room at hotel which will be epi-center of the volunteers, storage of personal possessions location, volunteer vests will be stored, where food and drinks will be available and parking passes handed out. Training will be held at the hotel prior to the conference. 
                               Bush International Terminals or Hobby Airport   
Greeters will meet and distribute a “Welcome Bag.” Special thanks to churches/groups volunteering in this area thus far: Klein UMC, BMCR & CME .
  A total of $54,000 is needed for meals during the three days for the World Methodist Conference. Notes Pat, “The cost is $1,500 per sponsorship which will pay for five tables of delegates along with 10 members from the sponsoring church who can join them for a unique time of dialogue.  The churches can split the cost with the minimum amount being $500 (this amount will allow for 3 members from each of the sponsoring churches). We need a total of 36 sponsorships to cover the cost and we have less than 10 sponsorships so far.”
  Local churches will volunteer to host a “preacher” on Sunday, September 4, 2016, and any family he or she may have with them, to attend their church service to preach. Each local church will arrange transportation from hotel to church and back either to hotel or to airport for pastor and family. The local church may also have to arrange for overnight lodging and meals depending on where the church is located.
  Several months prior to World Methodist Conference, volunteers will begin praying about the business that will be conducted during the duration of the conference. Prayer volunteers may even go on-site to the hotel to pray over the chairs that delegates, both clergy and lay, will be occupying during the conference. Special thanks to the churches that have volunteered thus far: Cedar Bayou UMC and Grace Fellowship.              
Call to Action
To enlist as a volunteer contact one of the names listed above. Perkins School of Theology is offering Continuing Education credits for participants; contact Charles Millikan for more information (cmillikan@houstonmethodist.org or 281.412.9377)
Rev. Chap Temple says the “100 Project” is based upon a famous quote from John Wesley who once said, “Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven on Earth.”  Explains Chap, “Our goal is to place 100 of the world Wesleyan leaders who will be here for the World Methodist Conference in 100 of our pulpits in the Greater Houston area and as far as Nacogdoches and College Station on the Sunday following the conference, September 4.  Both the leaders and the congregations involved will not all necessarily be United Methodist—some will be AME, CME, Nazarene, and other Wesleyan groups.   If a congregation is interested in hosting, their only obligation is to make arrangements to pick them from the Hilton Americas, get them to their church, and feed them lunch. A small honorarium would be nice but it is optional.” To get on the list, contact: chappellt@christchurchsl.org .
Adds B.T., “We are hopeful that other churches in the Houston area will sign on for the unique opportunity to have a visiting global pastor in the pulpit on Sunday. Bishop Huie and I appreciate the volunteers and sponsors that are signing on to make the World Methodist Conference 2016 an impactful event. The Texas Annual Conference is excited about hosting this conference and hope our churches will be involved so that they realize what an awesome opportunity this is to have Christians from all over the world coming to the Texas Annual Conference.”