Annual meeting always fun

Published 2:14 am Saturday, October 25, 2008

It was one of those beautiful fall days that we all welcome this time of year. The sky was blue. The weather was perfect. Not hot. Not cold, just right. The date had been marked on our kitchen calendar since last spring: “Fall Wesley Heirs Meeting, Oct. 14-15.”

Wesley Heirs are retired ministers and spouses of the Alabama-West Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. We gather each March and October at Blue Lake Camp near Andalusia for fun and fellowship. And, oh yes, food.

We arrived a little late last Tuesday morning, but since we had pre-registered, our nametags were waiting for us at the registration table. After checking our names off the list, the friendly registrars, Roy and Jean Sublett of Montgomery, handed us a booklet with the names, addresses and telephone numbers of all the Wesley Heirs. The opening assembly was already under way when we slipped in, but we were in time for lunch. As we lined up in the dining room, we had time to chat with friends we hadn’t seen for a while.

I always look forward to these gatherings because it’s a time when I can spend more than a passing few minutes with people I don’t see often. During Wesley Heirs meetings, I get to put a lot of faces with names that are familiar. The ministers move often, and through the years, you might see someone at the annual conference or district meetings, but you might not ever really get to know them.

The gathering starts with registration and assembly around 10 a.m. on a Tuesday and closes with the noon meal on Wednesday. There’s no rush, rush, rush all day long to get from one meeting to another. A program is held on Tuesday afternoons — but it’s your choice as to whether to attend or not. There’s also plenty of free time to sit around and chat with friends, play games, read, nap in your room, or stroll on the grounds and down by the lake.

Everyone looks forward to the Tuesday night entertainment. A group of singers from First United Methodist Church of Pensacola serenaded us with a variety of songs, from barbershop to love songs from the 30s and 40s to gospel. That delightful performance captured the undivided attention of the entire audience. Afterwards, snacks and goodies, spread on a long table in the lounge, awaited anyone who cared to indulge. There was also time for more socializing before we retired.

A solemn and beautiful memorial service for recently departed ministers and spouses was held on Wednesday morning. The Rev. Doug Newton delivered the inspiring sermon.

Following the noon meal, my husband and I cleaned up our display in the lounge for his book, “The Secret in Deep Water Swamp,” said goodbye to our friends and headed home. The fall gathering had ended, but we left with happy memories and expectations for more fun and fellowship in March.