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2017 Annual Conference Session: Overflow book, AC announcements & reminders


The following is an email sent out on March 15, 2017, by Dr. Jay Harris, Conference Secretary, with updated details about the 2017 Annual Conference Session set for June 4-7 on Jekyll Island.

2017 Annual Conference Session: Overflow book, AC announcements & reminders

From the Bishop

Dear Lay and Clergy Members of the Annual Conference, Conference and Agency Leaders,

I am excited about my first Annual Conference Session in South Georgia and look forward to us coming together to share all the ways we are Alive Together in Christ.

Even before moving to the South Georgia Conference I heard of an inspiring moment at last year’s annual conference session. The delegates enthusiastically set a goal of increasing average worship attendance by 10 percent by 2018. How grateful I am to be part of an annual conference that can set such a goal!

This year’s annual conference session is being intentionally designed to help us reach our goal of a 10 percent increase in average worship attendance. When we gather at the Jekyll Island Convention Center June 4-7, we will be joined by Lovett H. Weems, co-author of the book “OVERFLOW: Increase Worship Attendance & Bear More Fruit.” Dr. Weems is Distinguished Professor of Church Leadership at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. His three teaching sessions will provide practical steps for planning, implementing, and evaluating worship that can produce greater fruitfulness.

One of the ways I would like for us to prepare for Annual Conference is to order or download a copy of Dr. Weems’ book, “OVERFLOW: Increase Worship Attendance & Bear More Fruit.” The book is filled with practical help such as: paying attention to those you want to reach, paying attention to seasons and patterns, big days, prime seasons, and what to do about low attendance times.

As you read the book I encourage you to work through a list of practical applications I have prepared. {Click here to view list.}

Thank you for getting your own copy of “OVERFLOW” so we can continue moving toward our goal of a 10 percent increase in worship attendance.

I look forward to seeing you in June!

Alive Together in Christ,

Lawson Bryan

**Watch a personal invitation from Bishop Bryan to read the book “OVERFLOW.”


From the Conference Secretary

Dear friends,

As you can see, lots of planning has already gone into this year’s Annual Conference session. Below are some additional details you will find helpful. More information can always be found on the conference website,

Please note that the Book of Recommendations and Reports will be available for clergy and lay members by May 1. This annual publication will be available for purchase through as a professionally bound book, or may be downloaded as a PDF file for free from the conference website. An email notification will be sent to all clergy and lay members when the publication is ready.

Also, if there has been a change in the lay member(s) representing your charge, please log in to your church dashboard,, and make the change in the "My Church's Leaders" section. Please share the change with your district office.

Thank you.

Dr. Jay Harris, Conference Secretary

2017 Annual Conference Details

Special Offering - South Georgia Conference Disaster Response
The 2017 Annual Conference Special Offering will go to the South Georgia Conference Disaster Response fund to build our capacity to respond to disasters now and in the future. Every congregation is encouraged to collect an offering prior to Annual Conference. It will then be presented during the Opening Worship service. Materials to help you promote the special offering, including a bulletin insert and video, will be available soon at

Tuesday Night Beach Party
Come join the fun! On Tuesday evening, June 6, you are invited to a Beach Party at Great Dunes Beach from 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm. Great Dunes is adjacent to the Convention Center. There will be fellowship, food and games galore, with live music provided by saxophone extraordinaire and Brunswick native Michael Hulett. Hamburgers and hotdogs will be served to those who have pre-purchased a meal ticket. Meal tickets will be available at the information table upon arrival at Annual Conference. All are encouraged and welcome to attend. You don’t want to miss it!

Mission Outreach Emphasis
Agencies within the bounds of our Annual Conference are changing lives as they reflect the ways they are Alive Together in Christ. They are the hands and feet of Jesus Christ as they help to meet the most basic of needs. We are grateful for their work and want to show our gratitude. Each of the agencies listed below will have a collection box in the lobby. They have selected items that will help them in their day-to-day operation. So choose one or choose several, and let’s help fill up their boxes!

  • Magnolia Manor: Jigsaw/Word Search puzzles, hardback books, $10 Walmart gift cards, Kleenex
  • Methodist Home: Personal hygiene items (soap, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste)
  • Open Door: Travel size personal hygiene items and small journals
  • Vashti: Bath linens (towels & washcloths)
  • Wesley Community Centers: baby wipes, diapers/pull-ups (any size), latex-free gloves
  • Wesley Glen: Dove body wash, Aveeno or Eucerin lotions, adult wipes, regular size boxes of Kleenex packet/pocket size boxes of Kleenex

Annual Conference Overview Webinar | Tuesday, May 2 at 7:00 p.m.
The Annual Conference Session can be daunting for those attending for the very first time. What’s the Book of Recommendations and how do I use it? How do I prepare? Will I have to vote on anything? What do I need to report back to my local church? This webinar led by Dr. Jay Harris, Conference Secretary, will help you navigate the 2017 Annual Conference Session and assist you in making the most of your role as a delegate.  To register for the free webinar and to view documents that will be used during our Annual Conference Session, visit

Meeting Details & Logistics

The 2017 Annual Conference Session will begin with an Opening Worship Service on Sunday evening, June 4, at 7:00 p.m. Conference will conclude with the Sending Forth Service on Wednesday, June 7. Below is a tentative schedule of events.

Sunday, June 4

3:00 PM  Registration Begins
              (Sunday registration ends at 6:45 PM prior to the Opening Service)
7:00 PM  Opening Worship Service, Bishop James Swanson Preaching

Monday, June 5
7:30 AM   Extension Ministry Breakfast
8:00 AM   Registration Reopens (8:00 AM – 12:00 noon and 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM)
9:00 AM   Laity Session
9:00 AM   Clergy Session
10:30 AM Opening Plenary Session
                Board of Ordained Ministry Report
12:00 PM  Lunch Break
2:00 PM   Afternoon Plenary Session           
5:00 PM   Dinner Break (Methodist Home Barbecue)
7:00 PM   Ordination/Commissioning Service, Bishop Lawson Bryan preaching
8:15 PM   Reception for Ordained and Commissioned Ministers       

Tuesday, June 6
8:30 AM   Limited Retiree Registration until 10:30 AM
9:00 AM   Morning Plenary Session
11:00 AM  Retiree Recognition
12:00 PM  Lunch Break
1:00 PM  Gathering for Families of Deceased Clergy
2:00 PM  Memorial Service, Bishop Michael Watson preaching     
3:30 PM  Afternoon Plenary Session
5:00 PM  Beach Party

Wednesday, June 7
9:00 AM   Morning Plenary Session
11:00 AM  Fixing the Appointments/Sending Forth Service
12:00 PM  Adjourn

For a list of hotel options, please visit

EPIC Childcare & Beach Camp
We are so excited for some new adventures available for children and youth at this year's Annual Conference Session on Jekyll Island. We will be providing childcare for infants all the way up to middle school. It’s going to be EPIC!

Childcare for infants through preschool age children will be available for all worship services and business sessions at Jekyll Island Baptist Church (501 Riverview Drive). We've got lots of fun things planned for our little ones - crafts, games, and lots more! Childcare cost is $5.00 per child/day.

Elementary and middle school age children will be participating in an EPIC Beach Camp hosted by the Camp Connect Leadership Team, under the direction of Suzanne Akins. EPIC Beach Camp will be available for opening worship and business sessions only. Cost for the Beach Camp is $5.00 per child/day with additional opportunities for an excursion for campers. The gathering place for EPIC Beach Camp will be at the Jekyll Island Convention Center.

Pre-registration for all childcare is REQUIRED by May 28 so we know how to plan for crafts, materials, snacks and lunch as well as to ensure our staffing is Safe Sanctuaries compliant. For all the details and to register, visit or contact Allison Lindsey at   

Venue & Driving Directions
All conference business and worship services will be held at the Jekyll Island Convention Center. The convention center is located at 75 Beachview Drive N, Jekyll Island, GA 31527. From US Highway 17, you will turn onto Jekyll via the Jekyll Island Causeway. Once on the island you will stay straight until you reach the roundabout. At the roundabout you will veer right and then circle around to your left, which will put you on Beachview Drive. The convention center and parking will be on your right. Handicap parking will be clearly marked. Golf carts will be available to provide assistance for people getting from their cars to the main doors of the convention center.

Parking and Getting on the Island
In some of our previous venues, we have had parking costs connected to the area around the venue itself or to the hotels in the area. At Jekyll Island, there are no parking fees, but there is a fee to get onto the island. It is $6.00 per 24-hour period. For those who stay on Jekyll and don’t leave the island, it will be a one-time fee. Even if you come on the island each day in your own car, you can time your entrances to conceivably pay only twice, since the $6.00 fee is good for 24 hours.

If you have a group that would like to plan a banquet or special event, contact Dr. Wright Culpepper at or 912.261.8512, ext. 101.

Display spaces are available to groups and agencies related to the South Georgia Conference. Display spaces for United Methodist Church agencies cost $75 without power and $80 with power. This is the cost passed on to us by the Convention Center. Other non-UM agencies and vendors also have the opportunity to set up displays. Please see the display policy for those prices and conditions. The display policy as well as the registration form to reserve booth space can be found at Reservations for the space must be made by the May 1 deadline prior to the conference.

The registration fee for all pastors and lay members to Annual Conference is $20. Retired clergy not serving a church are exempt from this fee. You will pay when you register at Annual Conference.    

Expenses / Per diem  
Clergy and lay delegates who represent a local church shall have their expenses (including registration) paid by the local church (this includes retired clergy who are serving a church). Lay delegates who represent an organization and extension ministers shall have their expenses paid by the organization they represent. Retired clergy not under appointment and clergy on disability shall receive a per diem of $65 per day for each day attended. Lay members who do not represent a local church or conference organization shall receive a per diem on the same basis. Retired local pastors who are not serving a church do not retain their clergy status according to the Book of Discipline, and so do not qualify for a per diem.

Change in Lay Member
If there has been a change in the lay member representing your local church/charge, please make sure to pass this information onto the correct person. Please share the change with Meredyth Earnest at or let your district office know.

Receiving the Communications Needed for the 2017 Annual Conference Session
As a delegate to Annual Conference, you will receive several important communications leading up to Annual Conference. The purpose of these communications is to inform you of the matters you need to know about the ministry of the church, its organization, and any decisions you will be asked to make during the conference session. Because of action taken by the 2015 South Georgia Annual Conference, we no longer print and mail our communications. Instead, all communications related to the 2017 Annual Conference Session will be disseminated through conference emails, district newsletters and other district communications, our conference Advocate, and other conference communications. This saves us thousands of dollars in printing and postage costs each year.

Most of the business items for the conference session are contained in the Book of Recommendations and Reports (BOR). Inside the BOR you'll find a complete conference agenda, driving and parking information, helpful annual conference information, detailed reports from conference ministries, pension and benefits recommendations, conference budgets, and much more. One of the purposes of the BOR is to allow you to read the recommendations and reports before you come to conference. A good delegate is a prepared delegate. In May, the BOR will be made available in two ways. It will be made available for download as a PDF file at no cost, in its entirety or in sections, on our conference website (, and disseminated through other electronic means. You will also be able to purchase a professionally bound printed copy for around $5.00 through Ordering information will be provided when the BOR is ready. The Book of Recommendations will not be mailed nor will printed copies be available at the Annual Conference session. If you prefer a printed copy versus a digital download, you must print it at church, at home, or purchase one through

Please continue to visit often as we approach annual conference. Some reports that do not make the BOR publication deadline will only be available on the website. These reports will be important to have during the Annual Conference session.

Prior to arriving at Jekyll please download onto your digital device or print all the materials you want to have with you during the Annual Conference session. Although we have been told that the wireless internet capabilities will be better at the Jekyll Island Convention Center than in other venues, you may still want to download documents to your device prior to coming to be safe.

For questions regarding the business of Annual Conference, please contact Dr. Jay Harris at For questions regarding local arrangements or any general questions, please contact Bill Allen at or Kelly Roberson at 912-270-6172 or

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