The morning liturgy was led by Revs. Anthony McPhail, Alaina Harrison, Greg Harrison, and Robert Wood. The first reading was from Psalm 103:1-18, and the second reading was from 1 Peter 2:21-5.
The Business Session of the 2018 Annual Conference opened with the historic hymn, And Are We Yet Alive. Bishop Bryan called the 152nd session of the South Georgia Annual Conference to order. This is Bishop Bryan’s second Annual Conference to preside over as the resident bishop of the South Georgia Area.
In the Business Session Monday morning, the conference:
heard the Board of Ordained Ministry report given by Rev. Scott Tucker, chair.
recognized those clergy who faithfully serve beyond the local church in an extension ministry appointment.
recognized the following persons:
New Certified Candidates: Drew Anderson, Tammy Fincher, Dan Harper, Wayne Morrow, Michael Powell, Tillford Thomas, Brandon Tolle, Stephen Waite, Jill Willingham
2018 Licensing School Students: Dwight Dunn, Tammy Fincher, Dan Harper, Wayne Morrow, Michael Powell, Tillford Thomas, Brandon Tolle, Stephen Waite, Jill Willingham
New Licensed Local Pastors: Adam Balduff, Tammy Fincher, Brandon Tolle, Michael Powell, Tillford Thomas, Jill Willingham, Dan Harper, Wayne Morrow, Jr.
5 year Course of Study Graduates: Jean Watson, John Harrington
2018-2019 Young Clergy Academy Interns: Allison Williams, Pierce Chapel UMC, Caroline Peavy, Pittman Park UMC, Katy Smith, Mulberry St. UMC, Jorge Gonzelez, Cordele First UMC, Will English, Gateway UMC
received those clergy who have been elected into provisional membership and the clergy for reception into full conference membership. Bishop R. Lawson Bryan asked the clergy the historic questions asked of clergy since the days of John Wesley. The conference welcomed these clergy into their new relationship:
Provisional Members: Deacons - Shannon Baxter, Jamie Bone; Elders - Thomas Anderson, Susan Beverly, David Cott, Debora Shinhoster Richards
Full Conference Member: Deacons - Grace Guyton, Alaina Harrison
heard a South Georgia Conference history moment from Rev. Dave Hanson. If John Wesley were here today, Rev. Hanson said, you’d wish he not be on your ordination committee. “John set very high standards for the ordained clergy,” Rev. Hanson said, detailing the attributes Wesley expected of clergy. “But most important of all a pastor should have knowledge of the grace of God and have common sense.”
took action on the church closings of the following churches, while also celebrating the impact these churches have had on many people in the South Georgia Conference: Eason’s Chapel UMC, Excelsior UMC, Morven UMC, Ochlocknee UMC, Rose Hill UMC, Stapleton UMC, and Wesley UMC.
heard a “Vital Sign” moment - segments highlighting the various ways we are Alive Together in Christ throughout the South Georgia Conference - from Congregational Development. Rev. Jay Hanson, director of Congregational Development, and Rev. Ben Gosden, pastor of Trinity UMC in Savannah, with the help of Tyler Reagin, president of Catalyst, and Bob Goff, author of Love Does, via video, talked about how we can learn to use our influence better in the community, how leaders should be producing more leaders and how leaders should surround themselves with other effective leaders.
heard a report from the Conference Personnel Committee given by Mr. Richard Shinhoster, lay person from ConneXion UMC in Savannah. He thanked the clergy and lay staff who serve so faithfully and diligently in the Annual Conference.
approved a report from Equitable Compensation given by Rev. Robert Greene, pastor of Porterfield Memorial UMC. For 2019, the committee recommended a 2.5% increase to the 2018 base salary for all categories. They also proposed a conference arrearage policy that the conference approved, which includes:
A process for notification when compensation is in arrears.
Courses of action when an arrearage occurs.
A statute of limitations for claims against the Annual Conference.
Provisions for reporting churches whose arrearages have required disbursement from conference funds to compensate pastors.
heard the Lay Leader's Address by Mrs. Gloria Morgan. Mrs. Morgan highlighted the ways laity are serving their neighbors in each district and spreading the love of Christ. “South Georgia United Methodists are reaching out by telling our story of what Christ has done for us by encouraging others to join us in worship, Bible study and prayer,” she said. “It’s up to us as the laity to become more involved. Laity and clergy must work together to accomplish great things for the South Georgia Annual Conference. May we continue to live as God’s people whenever and wherever there is a need.”
celebrated with those pastors who have served 50 years in the ministry:
Rev. James E. Hamlin
Rev. W. Carl Howard
Rev. Samuel P. Lamback
Rev. E. Jarrell Lillard
and honored those pastors retiring this year:
Rev. Paul Royce Buckhiester
Rev. Marcia Jane Cochran
Rev. Ron W. Dixon
Rev. James W. Giddens, Jr.
Rev. Gerald B. Goodman
Rev. William Ode Harris
Rev. Sally Luanne Kemper
Rev. Bernard N. Khaw
Rev. Donald J. King
Rev. Glenn Allen Martin
Rev. Wayne Edward Moseley
Rev. Randy Jerome Mosley
Rev. J. Reese Nelson
Rev. R. Vance Riggins
Rev. Donna Sue Roberts
Rev. William Thomas Roe
Rev. Charles Benjamin Varnell
Rev. Edwin Leon Willis
Memorial Service with Holy Communion
A Memorial Service for those faithful servants who have served in our Conference was held Monday afternoon at 2 p.m. Rev. Leigh Ann Raynor, retired South Georgia minister, reminded us of our calls to serve and to thank God for calling us all into ministry.
“Remembering our calls, shouldn’t we be saying thank you, Jesus, for calling us? As we remember these who served, let us say thank you for letting us be among those on whom you shower your grace,” Rev. Raynor said.
Those being remembered include:
Mable Victoria Waye
May 13, 1946 – May 5, 2017
G. Ross Freeman
July 7, 1923 – July 3, 2017
Thomas Franklin Williams
March 3, 1927 – August 5, 2017
Charles Michael Benson
September 9, 1954 – August 9, 2017
September 3, 1930 – August 25, 2017
William Russell Key
December 18, 1923 – August 27, 2017
William Benjamin Dowdy
August 27, 1936 – November 14, 2017
William Homer McCoy
November 1, 1942 – November 27, 2017
Thomas M. Key
July 2, 1922 – December 8, 2017
November 28, 1929 – December 18, 2017
John Daniel Williamson
October 15, 1942 – December 21, 2017
Charles L. Dennis
December 19, 1934 – January 16, 2018
Harold Bratton Smith, Jr.
January 25, 1936 – February 23, 2018
May 21, 1944 – February 23, 2018
James Emlon Houseal
October 12, 1930 – March 9, 2018
Donald Willard Northrip
September 9, 1931 – March 11, 2018
James Wallace Chester, Jr.
September 20, 1925 – March 13, 2018
Franklin Johnny Terry
January 1, 1933 – March 28, 2018
Deceased Clergy Spouses
Joel Bennet Avera, Spouse of Rev. Donna Avera
September 7, 1960 – April 17, 2017
Edith Marcum Lain Thompson, Surviving Spouse of Rev. William Thompson
April 15, 1920 – May 15, 2017
Helen Waters Pulliam, Spouse of Rev. Lee Pulliam
November 19, 1939 – June 1, 2017
Francis Clements Flournoy, Surviving Spouse of Rev. William W. Flournoy
October 21, 1940 – June 9, 2017
Emmie Clarice Atkins Robertson, Surviving Spouse of Rev. Vernard Roberson
September 25, 1925 – July 12, 2017
Mary Eva Deen, Surviving Spouse of Rev. Edward Emmitt Deen
June 28, 1915 – August 5, 2017
Vera Higginbotham Strickland, Surviving Spouse of Rev. Marshall B. Strickland
July 16, 1929 – August 31, 2017
Esther Elizabeth Williams Boggs, Spouse of Rev. David Boggs
February 20, 1944 – October 27, 2017
Emily Elizabeth Britton Parker, Surviving Spouse of Rev. Pledger W. Parker
June 21, 1925 – November 2, 2017
Vera Turner Pharr, Spouse of Rev. H. L. Pharr
May 24, 1937 – November 21, 2017
Eulalie Massee Woeltjen, Spouse of Rev. Donald Albert Woeltjen, Sr.
April 27, 1939 – January 10, 2018
Katherine Whaley Bird, Surviving Spouse of Rev. Horace Bird
October 27, 1921 – February 12, 2018
Frank O’Neal, Surviving Spouse of Rev. Hilda O’Neal
December 18, 1942 – March 8, 2018
In the Business Session Monday afternoon, the conference:
heard another John Wesley moment from Rev. Dave Hanson as he shared the importance of reading. A note John Wesley once wrote to a fellow clergy said, “Because you fail to read, your preaching is the same as it was seven years ago. Whether you like it or not, read and pray daily. Do justice to your soul and give it time and means to grow,” he said. “As much as John Wesley liked books and loved to read, an ounce of love is worth a pound of knowledge,” Rev. Hanson said.
heard Bishop Bryan’s Episcopal Address where he discussed how the annual conference is alive together in Christ and outlined processes that keep us alive together in Christ. Five of those processes are 1) On Boarding, 2) Strategic Initiatives Team, 3) Appreciative Inquiry, 4) Compass Group, and 5) Leadership Forum. He also shared an update on the new Conference Center and urged delegates to share the conference’s vision for a new space with those who can give. Bishop Bryan concluded his address by challenging members to be Alive Together with a heart of peace. “Fast forward two or three years from now - as people are looking back on this time of the special General Conference and the discussion on the Way Forward - what will you have done and what will you have said that causes your name to come up as a person of peace?”
voted to refer a resolution that would create a “Task Force on Spirituality” to the Office of Connectional Ministries. This resolution calls on the presiding bishop to appoint a task force to study how the conference can more effectively train and educate clergy and laity in the practice of personal and corporate spiritual disciplines. It also calls for the task force to consider ministry opportunities that would help deepen people’s understanding and practice of spiritual disciplines. Conversations are already taking place between the makers of the resolution and Connectional Ministries about how to live into the spirit of the resolution.
voted to postpone consideration of the “Fort Valley” resolution until Tuesday. This resolution calls on the South Georgia Conference to, “affirm the present standards of our Discipline” and also, if passed, resolves that the Secretary of the Annual Conference, within 60 days, share a copy of the resolution and the vote count with the head of the General Conference delegation of each annual conference along with a request for the resolution to be shared with the delegations
approved six standing rules changes:
change in Lay Membership: Policy establishes what laity automatically serve as lay members of the annual conference to help achieve balance between lay and clergy representation. Current policy only allows for lay staff of Connectional Ministries to serve as lay members of annual conference. This change allows all conference lay staff, who are United Methodists, to serve as lay members of the annual conference.
change in Office of Communications: In the current policy, the Office of Communications and its Director operates under Connectional Ministries and its Director. This change establishes the Office of Communications as its own office, separate from Connectional Ministries.
change in Personnel Committee: Adds to the Conference Personnel Committee, as an ex officio member, the annual conference personnel officer that has recently been proposed by the Personnel Committee.
change in officer who keeps clergy personnel records: Names the Director of Ministerial Services as the officer who keeps clergy personnel records instead of the conference secretary.
change in Archives & History Committee: Removes Director of Administrative Services from the Archives & History Committee.
change in Elections Policy: Eliminates the use of paper forms and mailings; increases candidates’ statement to a maximum of 300 words to allow for a more informed vote; and offers the means for individuals to present questions that candidates may answer in their statement
heard a report from the Conference Secretary about the need to revote on a proposed amendment to the UMC constitution dealing with women’s equality. It was announced May 10 that an error had been made in the text of proposed Constitutional Amendment I as it was presented to annual conferences for voting in 2017. The amendment needed 66.7 percent of the votes to pass and only received 66.5. A sentence that should not have been included was removed by a vote of 746-56 of the 2016 General Conference but was inadvertently included in the version that was distributed. The vote will be taken on Tuesday.
heard a report from Conference Board of Pensions and Health Benefits. The 2017 session of the Annual Conference directed the Conference Board of Pensions and Health Benefits (CBOP) to “revisit the subject of family health insurance policies specifically focused on finding options that will lower the premium. If options are found, they will be presented to the 2018 Annual Conference for a vote.” In light of the substantial increases that would be passed along to the local churches, along with other ramifications considered and some not-yet-foreseen, the Conference Board of Pensions and Health Benefits recommends to the Annual Conference maintaining the current plan for providing health insurance to our clergy, with churches paying for full-time clergy and coverage of the family remaining the responsibility of the pastor. The vote will be taken on Tuesday.
The evening liturgy was led by Revs. Susan Beverly, David Cott, Thomas Anderson and Matt Stewart. The first reading was from Psalm 4, and the second reading was from Hebrews 13:20-21.
The Conference gathered Monday evening for the service for the Ordination of Deacons and Elders with Commissioning. Bishop R. Lawson Bryan, episcopal leader for the South Georgia area, was the preacher for this service. Bishop Bryan’s sermon, “The Great Privilege of Ministry,” was from Matthew 9:35-10:8.
“We pay attention to Jesus having his own commissioning service for the disciples,” Bishop Bryan said as he addressed those being ordained and commissioned.
“God has given you exousia - the authority that comes from within. It is who you are. Never let go of that.”
The great privilege of ministry, he said, is to see healing occur.
“The fundamental ministry of Jesus is healing. It’s about broken people and things being put back together,” Bishop Bryan said.
He invited the ordinands and those being commissioned to look in their neighborhoods and communities and heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the leper, and drive out demons.
“Laity and clergy, that’s the great privilege. Together, healing, cleansing, raising, and driving out demons, in the ministry of Jesus Christ.”
Bishop Bryan presided over the ordinal rites and was assisted by Mrs. Gloria Morgan, Conference Lay Leader, representing the laity, and Rev. Scott Tucker, Chair of the Board of Ordained Ministry, observed the ordinal rites.
The following individuals were commissioned as Probationary Clergy Members:
Probationary Members Commissioned for Ordination as Deacons
Probationary Members Commissioned for Ordination as Elders
Debora Shinhoster Richards
The following individuals were ordained as Full Conference Members:
Full Conference Member/Deacons
The Board of Ordained Ministry processed with the ordinands as a sign of the covenant community into which these newly ordained persons are entering. Rev. Jonathan Smith and Rev. Meg Procopio represented the Orders of Elders and Deacon.