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Called Annual Conference Session


News from the Called Session



Conference votes on church disaffiliations, adjusted 2023 budget

During a special called South Georgia Annual Conference session on August 20, 2022, clergy and lay members voted on matters related to disaffiliation, including ratifying the disaffiliation of 62 congregations and approving an adjusted budget for the 2023 calendar year. 

Bishop David Graves, episcopal leader of the South Georgia Conference, opened the 157th session of the South Georgia Annual Conference with a centering moment from Colossians 3. 

Reading from Colossians 3:12-15, Bishop Graves encouraged members to keep this as their prayer as each church and person moves forward in the direction God is leading and calling them. 

“May we clothe ourselves with a sense of humility and thankfulness and remember that we are united in one body in the love of Christ; we are Easter people,” Bishop Graves said. “As we move through this time there is a lot of emotion and wonderment, but let us rest assured that God is on the throne. The Holy Spirit is powerful and moving amongst us.”

Prior to moving into the business of the day, clergy and laity recited together the Apostles Creed. 

In the first item of business, the South Georgia Conference voted to ratify the decision of 62 local churches to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church. 

Provisions passed at the called 2019 Special Session of the General Conference outlined in paragraph 2553 in The Book of Discipline and two policies passed during the 2019 South Georgia Annual Conference session – a Disaffiliation Policy and a Pension Liabilities Proposal – laid the groundwork for the following churches to disaffiliate. 

From the Coastal District: Bethesda, Folkston, Gateway Community, Kingsland, Mt. Olivet, Odum, Screven, The Chapel.

From the North Central District: Andrew, Bonaire, Dexter, Dudley, Forest Hills, Haddock, Harvest, Sunshine.

From the Northeast District: Adrian, Alston, Charlotte, Ellis Chapel, Glennville, Grace, Harmony, Hopewell, Kea’s, Nevils, Oak Grove, Poplar Springs, Sardis, Shiloh, Smyrna, Springhill, Union, Uvalda, Vidalia First.

From the Northwest District: Bethel, Dixon, Roberta, Shellman, Trinity, Union.

From the South Central District: Adel, Alapaha, Beulah, Brookfield, Enigma, Lone Hill, Pearson, Sparks, St. John’s, Willacoochee.

From the Southwest District: Calvary, Centennial, Christ, Doerun, Ebenezer, Hatley, Metcalfe, Mt Zion (Campground), Peavy, Weeks Chapel, Whigham.

After the conference approved the disaffiliation of these churches, Bishop Graves offered a prayer of thanksgiving for each church and its ministry.

It read, in part, “We have shared with each other good times and bad, we have shared each other’s joys and sorrows, we have lightened each other’s heavy loads. Together we have laughed and cried, together we have worshiped and praised God, together we have lived.”  

Per the policies adopted, once each congregation pays their pension liabilities, two years of apportionments, and any legal fees involved, they will be released from the trust clause and will own their property.

In the second item of business, conference members approved three adjustments to the 2023 budget that was approved in June: a reduction to the Congregational Development budgeted line item, a reduction to the Comprehensive Protection Plan budgeted line item, and a reduction to the contingency line item. These proposed reductions total $223,847, which will ensure that remaining churches do not have increased apportionments resulting from local church disaffiliations. The new 2023 budget is $7,713,021. 

During his report, Rev. Robert Beckum, budget committee chair for the conference’s Council on Finance and Administration (CFA), thanked churches for their support and also acknowledged additional challenges in setting the 2024 budget at next year’s Annual Conference session. 

“We thank our Bishop for his leadership as we gather a larger conversation about our mission and priorities before we set a new budget for 2024,” Rev. Beckum said. “Together we believe we can meet the challenge and serve our Lord fruitfully in the years to come.”

In his closing remarks, Bishop Graves invited people to join him in district meetings in September. 

“I want to answer questions but also share hopes and dreams for the future,” Bishop Graves said. “In the midst of all of this, I hope you will join me in being excited about ministry and winning people to Christ and changing our corner of the world. You are doing it every day in spite of all the obstacles. 

“I have great hope for the future. Let’s focus and continue to work together,” he said.

Minutes of the special called session will be included in the 2022 South Georgia Annual Conference Journal, which will be available later this fall. 

An updated 2022-2023 Appointment Book can be found here.
 



Information From the Session

In February, Bishop David Graves announced there would be a special session of the Annual Conference held on Saturday, August 20, 2022. The purpose of the special session is to vote on any matters related to local church disaffiliations within the South Georgia Annual Conference. 
 

The meeting will begin at 10 am and will be held via Zoom. It is anticipated that the meeting will last no longer than one hour. 
 

As a reminder, the called conference session will consider only matters pertaining to this call; no other business can be considered.
 

A live stream link for non-voting members will be made available on the conference website.

Working Agenda

  • Welcome & Opening Remarks

  • GNTV Online Webinar/Voting Instructions 

  • Organizing Motions 

  • Attendance Vote

  • Resolution Approving Disaffiliations of Local Churches 

  • CFA Report: Revision of the 2023 SGA Annual Conference Budget

  • Closing Motions 

  • Adjournment 

Business Items
Resolution Approving Disaffiliation of Local Churches
The South Georgia Conference will vote to ratify the decision of local churches to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church. Click here to read the full resolution, which includes the names of all churches to be voted on. {Revised on 8/10 to reflect an update to Mt. Olivet in the Coastal District. It is in Liberty County. Also updated was the spelling of Dougherty County in the Southwest District.}

Proposed Adjusted 2023 Budget
CFA is proposing three adjustments to the 2023 budget approved in June. This proposed adjusted budget will be voted on during the called session. Click here to read more and see the adjusted budget.
 

Emails Sent

Who Votes

Elected lay members will serve as the voting lay members for the called session. Clergy membership of the annual conference is defined in ¶32 of The Book of Discipline

Guests
There will be a live streaming option on the conference website for guests to view the called session. No fee is required. 
 

Cost/Payment

During the 2022 Annual Conference Session, the conference voted to update Standing Rule number 3.1.9 to establish a registration fee for single-one day sessions, whether in-person or online. Therefore, the registration fee for the August 20 called session is $10 per member. The deadline to pay was August 7. As always, retired clergy not serving a church and clergy on medical leave are exempt from this fee. 
 

Voting Credentials 

All conference members who paid their registration fee by the August 7 deadline will receive their voting credentials and the zoom meeting link on Tuesday, August 16. No Voter IDs will be issued after this date. As a reminder, retired clergy not serving a church and clergy on medical leave were exempt from this fee and will automatically receive their credentials. 

Online Voting Platform & Technology Needed
We will be utilizing GNTV’s online voting platform. This is the same system we have used for the past three annual conference sessions. You will need an internet-connected device such as a desktop or laptop computer with speakers, tablet, or smartphone. You will access the session using a web browser (i.e. the platform you use to get on the Internet, such as Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari, etc.). A webcam is not necessary. Only videos of conference leaders will be shown during the session. You will also need to either open a separate tab in your internet browser window to be able to vote, or choose to utilize a second internet-connected device, such as a smartphone or tablet, to use solely as a voting device. 
 

We will take one practice vote at the beginning of our session. However, if you would like a refresher prior to August 20 on how to utilize GNTV’s voting platform they have created a website page with a tutorial video and quick guides. Click here to visit the site.
 

Appointment Book

At the conclusion of the August 20 called session an updated appointment book will be available on the conference website. 
 

Quick Links

Timeline

  • August 16: Email with session zoom meeting link and Voter ID sent to voting members who have paid the registration fee as well all retired clergy not serving a church and clergy on medical leave (Please note: no Voter IDs will be issued after this date)
  • August 20: Called Annual Conference Session, 10 am via Zoom
     

If you have questions specifically related to the disaffiliation process, please contact your district office. If you have questions related to the August 20 called session, please email me (meredyth@sgaumc.com) or Kelly Roberson (kelly@sgaumc.com). 



Original Call Announcement

Bishop David Graves, episcopal leader of the South Georgia Conference, in accordance with ¶603.5 of the 2016 Book of Discipline, calls for a special session of the annual conference on Saturday, August 20, 2022. The meeting will begin at 10 a.m. via Zoom.

The purpose of the special session is to vote on any matters related to local church disaffiliations within the South Georgia Annual Conference.

According to the current South Georgia Conference disaffiliation policy, the deadline for a church to disaffiliate at the regular June Annual Conference Session is April 1 of the same year. The Bishop’s announcement of a called session allows local churches additional time to have any necessary conversations. 

“I want to give everyone the space to do what they need to do without feeling like they are missing a window of opportunity,” Bishop Graves said. “At the same time, and even more importantly for me, I want local churches to put their focus on the Lenten season and how we can draw closer to God on this Lenten journey.

“Now more than ever we have the opportunity to be a witness for Jesus Christ in this holy season.” 

It is anticipated that motions will be made at the June Annual Conference Session to amend the current disaffiliation policy timeline to allow churches to vote to disaffiliate prior to the special session in August. 

The special conference session will consider only matters pertaining to this call; no other business can be considered.

Elected lay members of the 2022 June Annual Conference Session will again serve as the voting lay members for the called session in August. Clergy membership of the annual conference is defined in ¶32 of the Book of Discipline. Specific delegate instructions and information will be distributed by the Conference Secretary.

If the postponed 2020 General Conference does take place in August then an alternate date for a special session will be announced for October 2022.

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**The Book of Discipline ¶603.5: A special session of the annual conference may be held at such time and in such place as shall have been determined by the annual conference after consultation with the bishop, or by the bishop with the concurrence of three-fourths of the district superintendents. A special session of the annual conference shall have only such powers as are stated in the call. (See Judicial Council decision 397)

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