Bishop Crest
The Harm Caused by Church Conferences Voting to Disaffiliate
Dear Friends of the South Georgia Conference,   This is the third in a series of four articles I am releasing related to church disaffiliations. At the beginning of January, I ...
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Serving & Partnering with You

November 14, 2022

Dear Friends of the South Georgia Conference, 
Nancy and I are overjoyed to be assigned to the South Georgia Conference. Over the past fifteen months, we have met so many wonderful people across the conference. As your bishop, I am deeply honored that I am able to continue serving here and partnering with you in the life-changing ministry in our local churches. God is at work, and I look forward with great joy and anticipation to what lies ahead for the South Georgia Conference in this next season.
While jurisdictional conferences were meeting last week, the Commission on General Conference announced that the next General Conference will be held April 23-May 3, 2024, in Charlotte, NC. I am grateful to the commission for arranging these logistics. It is helpful as we move forward to know this date. As a reminder, General Conference is the only body of United Methodists who can vote to either uphold or change the Book of Discipline. Having not met in eight years, there will be ample legislation before this body. In between General Conferences lots of narratives circulate whether it is persuasive letters, aspirational resolutions, straw polls, etc. None of these things can change our Discipline or how The United Methodist Church is governed. This two-week General Conference is the only time changes may be made.
If you attended any of the clergy or laity gatherings in September, you heard me explain the history of our United States jurisdictions. It is important to know they were formed in 1939 as a response to the merger of the Methodist Episcopal Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church South -  then called the Methodist Church. The Southeast wanted to establish jurisdictions for reasons that included: 1) they did not want a northern bishop, and 2) they did not want a black bishop. Jurisdictional Conferences were created to elect and assign bishops with regional accountability.
While at the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference (SEJ), the delegates elected three bishops. I would like to extend a warm welcome to Bishop Tom Berlin, Bishop Connie Shelton, and Bishop Robin Dease. These gifted leaders will have a positive impact on their conferences, the jurisdiction, and the denomination. I am proud to welcome them into the SEJ College of Bishops.
Most importantly, we are launching a year of prayer. It will guide and direct all we do in the South Georgia Conference in the coming year. Soon you will hear more about this initiative and how we can center our work around what God is calling us to do. Our annual conference theme in 2023 will be based on Acts 4:31, “When they prayed.”
I am grateful for how you have made Nancy and me feel at home. Your calls, letters and notes sustain us when it feels hard. Yet we know this work is not too hard because Jesus is at the center of our work. I humbly ask for your prayers in the coming months as we continue in ministry together. In turn, I’ll be praying for you and your church.
In Christ, 
Bishop David Graves

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