Just outside the doors of the Jekyll Island Convention Center, the Atlantic Ocean stretches as far as the eye can see. Inside, the South Georgia Annual Conference gathered Sunday, June 3 for its opening worship service.
“Stretch,” Bishop Bryan said as he preached a sermon encouraging South Georgia United Methodists to respond to Jesus’ call to follow Him and love and serve others.
“Even John Wesley had to learn to stretch,” he said. “John Wesley stretched the church.”
Bishop Bryan recounted the stories of the women at Jesus’ tomb, the man with the withered hand, and the woman at the well to help illustrate a believer’s response to Jesus’ calling on their lives.
“The real issue is, do I want to let myself wither? Do I want to let myself die? Or do I want to be healed? Do I want to stretch?”
“Stretch out your hand,” Bishop Bryan said, noting those four words summarize Jesus’ ministry. “At the end, Jesus stretched out his hands to embrace the world.”
The 2018 Special Offering for Abundant Health was collected during the service. Together local churches gave more than $26,679.95.
South Georgia United Methodists had the opportunity to give gifts of hope to enrich the health and lives of people in South Georgia, the United States, and around the world.
The 2018 Annual Conference Special Offering is in partnership with Global Ministries’ Global Health focus of extending health interventions to one million children by 2020. Learn more about the Abundant Health Initiative and ways a local church can partner with Global Ministries in mission and ministry from “Everywhere to Everywhere” by visiting www.umcabundanthealth.org.
The first day of the 2018 Annual Conference session was brought to a close with the laity gathering at 7:45 p.m. for the Laity Session in the main plenary hall and clergy gathering for their Clergy Sessions at the same time in Ballroom H of the Convention Center.
Gloria Morgan, Conference Lay Leader, called the meeting to order. Robert Anderson, Northwest District lay leader, gave the opening prayer. Jeff Barker, Coastal District Lay Leader, then gave the greeting, welcoming lay members to Jekyll Island for the 2018 Annual Conference.
Bill Hatcher, Allison Lindsey, Larry Price, and Carl Childs, lay delegates to the 2019 Called Special General Conference Session, each gave a report about the called session.
Allison Lindsey, Associate Director for Connectional Ministries, told laity about resources that Connectional Ministries offers to local churches, including webinars, trainings, consultations, conference website, and much more.
Laity then heard a report from the United Methodist Women by Carol Banks, UMW President, and a report from the United Methodist Men by UMM President Donald Rhodes.
Jimmy Outlaw, South Central District Lay Leader, gave a brief orientation to Annual Conference. Afterwards, Gloria Morgan introduced each of the District Lay Leaders.
Jeff Hanson, North Central District Lay Leader, gave the closing prayer.
Bishop R. Lawson Bryan convened his second clergy session as the episcopal leader of the South Georgia Annual Conference. Rev. Anthony McPhail, pastor of Centerville UMC, led the clergy in singing “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing.” Rev. Tim Steffen, pastor of Martha Bowman UMC, opened with a word of prayer.
Bishop Bryan welcomed all clergy and lay members of the Board of Ordained Ministry and clarified who could attend, speak, and vote at the clergy session.
Bishop Bryan then 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.
Rev. Scott Tucker, chair of the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry, gave the Board of Ministry Report. Rev. Josh Bizzell, BOM Registrar, then gave the Report of the Registrars.
Rev. Tony Crosby, pastor of Epworth UMC in Columbus, talked about the upcoming Georgia Pastors’ School, set for July 16 - 19, 2018, at Epworth By the Sea. Bishop Bryan also announced that Tod Bolsinger, author of Canoeing the Mountains, will be the speaker for the 2019 Winter Camp Meeting, Winter Camp Meeting, sponsored by Epworth By The Sea, will take place January 29 - February 1. Dr. Derek McAleer also spoke about clergy pensions.
Rev. Steve Vinson, Senior Vice President for Communications at Magnolia Manor, offered the closing prayer.