Transcript: Kenaston Serves Church through General Conference Commission
(Judi speaking onstage in February 2016) “On the threshold of another General Conference, the world and the church have changed significantly.”
Judi Kenaston, Chair of the Commission on General Conference: “I love the process. I love the way the church works. I like reading the legislation. I really get excited by the workings of the church and seeing our connection work together in the global church.”
Judi Kenaston truly enjoys serving The United Methodist Church, including in her current role as Chair of the Commission on General Conference.
When delegates from all over the world gather in Portland, Oregon in 2016, Kenaston will see eight years of work come together.
Judi Kenaston: “I have prayed for General Conference every day, from the moment I was asked to chair the commission. I knew I couldn’t do it without God’s help.”
The commission sets the location and vision for General Conferences years ahead and decides the speakers and the schedule leading up to each event. Kenaston serves on all the committees: visioning, program and rules.
Judi Kenaston: “When a decision is made by the commission it’s my role to interpret that to the church. That’s one of the challenges, ‘How you do that and how you deal with the different spins that go out when a decision is made?’ And then a group interprets differently than we intended. Or, reads a motivation into what we were doing that wasn’t intended to be there.”
Kenaston works full-time as the West Virginia Annual Conference Secretary, chairing the commission as a volunteer. 2016 will be her fourth time at General Conference which over the years has become a family affair. Kenaston’s husband and eldest daughter were also serving in Tampa in 2012.
Judi Kenaston: “For this General Conference my husband’s gonna be a marshal, and our son who is a global mission fellow will be there in two capacities: one with Global Ministries and the Global Mission Fellows and then he’s also the reserve lay delegate from our Annual Conference."
The family blogged from Tampa to give the folks at home a feel from the floor.
Judi Kenaston: “I didn’t talk about legislation so much, but more, ‘This is what I’m seeing. These are the people. These are the reports we’re hearing.’ It was my perspective. But that was my way of keeping them connected.”
Technology at General Conference has changed a lot since Kenaston was elected in 2008. The commission has implemented major advancements like tablets and simultaneous translation to improve communication across many languages.
Judi Kenaston: “We began to use the headsets and to do simultaneous interpretation. It makes a huge difference because the person speaking is speaking and you’re listening too. As they speak I see what they’re saying, I see their facial expression. I can tell when they’re a little angry about something or if they’re passionate about something it shows in their face. The commission members said, ‘Can’t we do this at General Conference?’”
Judi Kenaston: “I will go off the commission at the end of General Conference. The work that you do in that time it is very intense and demanding. But it’s also very rewarding. And I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve had a wonderful opportunity to serve the church in this way.”