Monday morning began with the Laity Session at 8:15 a.m. in the Auditorium and the Clergy Sessions at 8:30 a.m. in the Ballroom. 


Roy Blackwood, conference lay leader, called the meeting to order.  Following the opening prayer by Robert Anderson, Columbus District Lay Leader, Jim Wingate, Valdosta District Lay Leader, gave the greetings, welcoming lay members to Tifton and the Valdosta District for the 2011 Annual Conference.

Pat Tanner, Waycross District Lay Leader, offered a devotional.

Laity then heard a report from the United Methodist Women by Sara Bankhead, UMW President, and a report from the United Methodist Men by Carl Childs.

Gloria Morgan, Assistant Conference Lay Leader, gave a brief orientation to Annual Conference. She presented information on lay members' responsibilities.

Nancy Bearden Hudson then gave instructions and moderated the speeches for nineteen persons who have declared themselves a candidate to General and Jurisdictional Conferences. 

After the speeches from each candidate, Roy Blackwood introduced the Assistant Lay Leader and each of the District Lay Leaders.

Lois Duncan, Thomasville District Lay Leader, gave the closing prayer.


Bishop James R. King, Jr. convened the clergy session.  Rev. John Legan led the clergy in singing “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” accompanied by Rev. Dale Thornton on the piano. Rev. Reggie Williams opened with a word of prayer. 

Bishop King welcomed all clergy and lay members of the Board of Ordained Ministry and clarified who could attend, speak and vote at this clergy session. 

Bishop King asked the Historic Question regarding the character of all clergy.  The Bishop reported on the character of the District Superintendents.  The District Superintendents reported on the clergy under their supervision. The character of all clergy was approved.

Dr. Marcus Tripp gave the Board of Ministry Report. Dr. Jay Harris then gave the Report of the Registrars. 

Rev. Matt Waldron offered the closing prayer.


The Business Session of the 2011 Annual Conference opened with the historic hymn, And Are We Yet Alive. Bishop King called the session to order. This is Bishop King’s third Annual Conference to preside over since becoming the resident bishop of the South Georgia Area.  

Rev. Stephen Webb, Senior Pastor at Tifton First UMC, welcomed South Georgia United Methodists to Tifton. Dr. Joe West, Assistant Dean for the University of Georgia, Tifton Campus, extended a welcome from the Tifton community.  

In the Business Session Monday morning, the conference:  

·       heard the Lay Leader's Addresses by Mr. Roy Blackwood, conference lay leader.  Mr. Blackwood reminded us that “the purpose of tithing is to teach us to put God first. Tithing is an indicator of our generosity. It is an expression of a heart truly thankful to God for all his blessings in this life and the life to come.”

·       heard the Board of Ordained Ministry report given by Dr. Marcus Tripp, chair.

·       recognized those clergy who faithfully serve beyond the local church in an extension ministry appointment.

·       received clergy into full conference membership.  Bishop King asked the clergy the historic questions asked of all clergy since the days of John Wesley.  The conference welcomed these clergy into their new relationship.

·       adopted the items on the consent calendar.

·       elected persons presented by the nominations committee.  


At 2:00 p.m. this afternoon, the Conference participated in a worship service to commission Probationary Clergy Members. Bishop James R. King, Jr. led in this commissioning and recognition service.

Probationary Members Commissioned for Ordination as Elders
Joshua Brad Bizzell
Benjamin James Gosden
Lauri Christine Hartley
James R. Morrow
Adam Michael Ricker
Chad Ryan Watkins

 Probationary Member Commissioned for Ordination of Deacons
Julia Mercer Norman

Recognized as Associate Members of the Annual Conference
 Andy R. Brownley
John Pierce Drake
Hubert Guy Mathis, Jr.
Joseph Edward Morrison, Jr.


In the Business Session Monday afternoon, the conference:  

·      celebrated through “commercials” the following: The Methodist Home for Children and Youth, Wesley Glen, Magnolia Manor, and Vashti.

·       heard about exciting ministry taking place with new congregations, revitalized congregations and Hispanic ministries during the New and Revitalized Congregational Development report. 

The afternoon ended with a focus on “Imagine No Malaria.”  Imagine No Malaria is an initiative of the people of The United Methodist Church to raise $75 million to eliminate malaria deaths in Africa by 2015. Malaria is a preventable and treatable disease that has killed millions of people for thousands of years. Ninety percent of the deaths caused by malaria occur in Africa, where the disease is the leading killer among children.  One in five deaths among children under the age of five is caused by malaria.  Every 45 seconds a child in Africa dies from malaria.

Bishop Thomas Bickerton challenged South Georgia United Methodists.  “The job is not done.  We’ve got more bed nets to hang, more lives to save, more disciples to be made.” 

During this time, an offering was received to support Imagine No Malaria. Each church in the South Georgia Conference was asked to take a Special Offering prior to conference. All of these individual congregational gifts were brought together in a single offering, and together members now have the privilege of making a significant difference in saving lives.


The following were elected as General Conference delegates during Monday's business session: 

Robert Beckum

Bob Moon

Larry Price

Carl Childs

Bill Hatcher

Kelly Roberson


To close the day, the Conference gathered for the service of The Order of Ordination.  Bishop Thomas Bickerton, episcopal leader of the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference, was the preacher for this service.

Although the power was out for most of the service, the Spirit moved in a powerful way.  With no microphone and only a flashlight shining from the crowd to illuminate his face, Bishop Bickerton, also known as "Mr. Microphone" in divinity school, reminded the ordinands that God is with them in all that they do.

“Tonight you are being ordained and entrusted to take this theology of ours, a theology of grace and love, to a world that is broken and lost and dominated by negativity…but you are not alone!

“In the midst of it all there is a voice,” said Bishop Bickerton.  “It’s the voice of Jesus that rises out of the scriptures.  It’s the voice of God that descends out of the Holy Spirit.  Listen, can you hear it?  You are NEVER ALONE.” 

Bishop James R. King, Jr. presided over the ordinal rites and was assisted by Bishop Bickerton and Mr. Roy Blackwood, Conference Lay Leader, representing the laity, and Dr. Marcus Tripp, Chair of the Board of Ordained Ministry, observed the ordinal rites. 

The following individuals were ordained:

Full Conference Members/Elders

R. Grant Abernathy
Dorsia A. Atkinson, Jr.
Stephen Alexander Brinkman
Jim Wright Dominey
Sally Kozma Flowers
George Thomas Martin, IV
Autrey Franklin Morris
Bruce Russell Sack
Vicki Patrice Scott
Randall L. Smith
Stephanie McGhin Smith
Matthew Charles Waldron
Reginald Wayne Williams

Full Conference Member/Deacon

John Keith Legan

The Board of Ordained Ministry processed with the ordinands as a sign of the covenant community into which these newly ordained persons are entering. Dr. John Stephens and Reverend Karen Kilhefner represented the Orders of Elders and Deacon.