Well, my journey with the United Methodist Church has come to an end. I have served in the UMC for 7 years. During that time, I have served in 3 different conferences. Each conference was vastly different. Of course being "only" a ym, I may not have all the inner-workings of the system but I can see major differences within the conferences.
The 3 conferences that I have worked for (served in) were the following: Kentucky Conference, North Alabama Conference and the Northern Indiana Conference.
Here is a little breakdown of my view (concerning ym)
The Kentucky Conference did several things very well. They had a great winter conference event. The YM coordinator also did a good job in connecting with the ym's. The distrincts were strong as well. The ym's would get together for accountability, fellowship and planning events.
The Northern Alabama Conference knew how to put on retreats and events. They had fall retreats for both middle school and high school ministry. They were done very well. They also had a fantastic winter retreat in Gatlinburg. One of the things that I loved about the conference was their confirmation retreat. It was great for our students to see all the other students from other churches who were being confirmed and it was great to have the bishop speak to them during this time. The YM coordinator was also fantastic.
The Northern Indiana Conference. Unfortunately, I was only involved here for a year, so I can not give a great assesment of it. They seem to place all their efforts into the camping program and all events out at the camp. The camp is old school camping and there are pros with that and there are cons with that as well. There was no contact from the conference, distrincts though and that was a little sad with us being a "connectional" church. I tried early on .. did not get anywhere and I gave up. Their fall event seemed to be great but the timing did not allow me to go ( maybe, I should have made the time ).
I am headed back to the ELCA. I am actually going back to the synod where I began ym after my last schooling opportunity. I am looking forward to getting back in the NEOS. The church that I will be serving at/with is Zion lutheran. I will be making a post on the church and my position there soon .. as I continue to play catch up with my 10 day-non-posting-tenure.
My one suggestion to the UMC as I leave: As a connectional church, connect all UMC in the U.S. in regards to health insurance. Do not place the burdens on the individual conferences to provide the insurance. if all conferences would pull together and all churches were "mandated" to participate in the insurance poll and each employee was part of it ..... the insurance cost could be more manageable. GRANTED, it would not be cheap. But, I think that churches need to look at providing health care coverage for all of their employees and for the church to pay for the insurance - all 100%.