By Charmaine Robledo
Director of Communications, Mountain Sky Conference
As attendees of the special called General Conference arrived at The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis, Missouri on Feb. 23, they were greeted by volunteers with the Mountain Sky Conference of The United Methodist Church – who were handing out “Love-in-Action” welcome bags filled with chocolate and conversation prompts.
The bags were a way for people to “Pass the Peace” with one another through dialogue and some treats, according to the Rev. Margaret Gillikin, a district superintendent in the Mountain Sky Conference.
Gillikin said she wanted to create “an opportunity for delegates and observers at General Conference to turn toward another and glimpse one another’s belovedness” through these Love-in-Action welcome bags.
In a letter to local churches, Gillikin called on congregations to offer “radical hospitality” at the 2019 General Conference and assemble the welcome bags. The bags were filled with Hershey’s Kisses, a map of the Mountain Sky Conference with a prayer, and a set of six questions to ask one another that included: What has someone said or done that surprised you? What is your faith in the future?
Rev. Derek DeToni-Hill, senior pastor of Smoky Hill United Methodist Church in Centennial, Colorado, traveled to St. Louis to join other volunteers with the Mountain Sky Conference. He was part of the welcome team on Saturday morning.
“For me, it embodied the welcome and grace we, as a conference and jurisdiction, proclaim regularly,” he said. ” It felt like a witness to God’s love for all.”
According to Rev. Amy Gearhart, senior executive for transition and conference culture at the Mountain Sky Conference, more than 50 churches contributed hundreds of “Love-in-Action” bags. More bags were distributed Feb. 24 for the first official day of the General Conference session. To learn more about the Mountain Sky Conference, go to www.mtnskyumc.org.