Compelled to be weird

Tennessee-Western Kentucky United Methodist Annual Conference, Day 1

John I. Carney
5 min readJun 20, 2023


Bishop Gregory Palmer of the West Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church speaks to the Tennessee-Western Kentucky Annual Conference. The picture shows both Palmer directly and a projection of Palmer on a large video screen.
Bishop Gregory Palmer of the West Ohio Annual Conference speaks during morning worship on Monday at the Tennessee-Western Kentucky Annual Conference.

“[T]he love of God,” said Dr. Ashley Boggan, “compels us to be weird.”

The United Methodist Church is divided into administrative units called Annual Conferences. The term “annual conference” refers to the geographic region, its administration, and, of course, an annual event.

Each Annual Conference is broken up into districts, and I’m the lay leader for the Stones River District of the Tennessee-Western Kentucky Annual Conference (Middle Tennessee, West Tennessee, and a chunk of southwestern Kentucky), which means I’m a voting delegate for the event.

When the Tennessee-Western Kentucky (or TWK) annual conference was formed in 2022, by the merger of two other conferences, it was understood that the annual meeting would alternate between the Nashville area and the Memphis area. Last year, the conference was in Brentwood, south of Nashville, at one of the largest church facilities in the conference; this year, it’s in downtown Memphis, at a convention center.

I posted a couple of weeks ago about my denomination’s recent struggles and my hope that this event would be inspiring and energizing.

It has been, so far.



John I. Carney

Author of “Dislike: Faith and Dialogue in the Age of Social Media,” available at