In the business session Tuesday morning, the conference:
were "energized" with a song and dance by the kids from BEACH camp and the College Summer Camp Leadership team.
were led by Claire Bowen, human resource specialist and church consultant, in planning and vision work - “Plan on a Page.” This plan, which is a plan for being alive together in the world, helps churches create a vision of greatness and vitality. The process allows the church to dream, to innovate, to try new, think of grand possibilities, to discuss fresh expressions, and to meet the needs of our changing community.
took a 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.
heard a Vital Signs moment from Connectional Ministries, facilitated by Dr. Matt Woodbery, in which he and his team shared highlights from each ministry area and ways our conference is “Alive Together In the World:”
Camp Director Suzanne Akins shared about new community partnerships with Children in Action and Royal Family Kids Camp. This summer, Camp Connect, South Georgia’s camping ministry, will partner with Children in Action, a sports camp experience for underprivileged children, and Royal Family Kids Camp, a camping ministry to children in foster care, to reach out and minister to underserved children in its community.
Associate Director of Hispanic Ministries Daniel Medina shared the stage with Jaime Gallaga and Heraldo Vicente and highlighted community ministries extending from our Hispanic churches in Albany and Bainbridge.
Rev. Stacey Harwell-Dye shared the work of the Advocacy Team and interviewed Rev. Ashley Randall to highlight the team’s focus on ending extreme poverty.
Reports were given on the work of the Multicultural Task Force, chaired by Rev. Pat Burns, and the Undocumented Neighbors Task Force, chaired by Rev. Brett Maddocks. These task forces were created at the 2017 Annual Conference session and both reported their work in providing educational resources and raising awareness around these important issues.
Allison Lindsey introduced Dr. Simbo Ige, Executive Director of Global Health for Global Ministries, who shared about the Abundant Health initiative.
Bishop Bryan presented a check for $29,029.95 for the 2018 Special Offering to Dr. Simbo Ige and Rev. David Hibberts, chair of the Special Relief Fund Committee, designated to Abundant Health and the Special Relief Fund for South Georgia clergy in need of financial assistance. Dr. Ige and Rev. Hibberts thanked the South Georgia Conference for its generosity. Designated offering funds were given for water filters, nutrition, maternal/prenatal health, and at-risk youth.
approved the recommendations from the Conference Board of Pensions and Health Benefits: to continue to direct bill the full cost of the clergyperson’s health insurance to the local church and for the clergyperson to continue to bear the cost of spousal and family insurance. Mr. Marc Reid, chair of the board, announced that the conference is on course with our plan to fully fund the pre-82 pension liability obligation by 2021. We have been able to cut the Pre-82 Pension Apportionment in half in 2019 and still remain on target to meet our obligation by 2021.
approved the nominations report.
heard a final John Wesley moment from Rev. Dave Hanson. After the Revolutionary War, there was a leadership vacuum in American churches. There was no one to serve the churches, and they needed leaders. John Wesley went to the bishop of London and plead their case. “There were three pastors in all of America, and John Wesley took it upon himself to stretch,” Rev. Hanson said, by ordaining ministers and sending them to America. “Unusual situations call us to stretch and we must do what we need to do,” Rev. Hanson said. “We think of John Wesley as methodical and intentional, but John Wesley stretched many times. That was just one time. Stretch.”
heard a presentation on A Way Forward:
Bishop Bryan explained the work to this point of the Commission on the Way Forward and the Council of Bishops and the three plans that have been part of the conversation: the traditionalist plan, the one church plan and the connectional conference plan. He also talked about what the South Georgia Conference has been doing to study and look at the Way Forward: Strategic Initiatives Team, young clergy, pastors of the top 25 church in worship attendance, leadership forum, district dialogues.
Mr. Warren Plowden, conference chancellor and alternate on the Judicial Council, talked about the Judicial Council’s ruling on a Petition for Declaratory Decision from the Council of Bishops regarding the meaning, application and effect of ¶14 in relation to ¶507 of The Book of Discipline 2016 (decision 1360). In brief: Petitions to the special session of the General Conference 2019 may be filed by any organization, clergy member and lay member of the United Methodist Church as long as the business proposed to be transacted in such petition is in harmony with the purpose stated in the call. It is the obligation of the General Conference to determine, in the first instance, through its committees, officers and presiders, acting in accordance with The Discipline and the rules and procedures of the General Conference, whether any such petition is “in harmony.” However, business not in harmony with the purpose as stated in the call is not permitted unless the General Conference by a two-thirds vote shall determine that other business may be transacted. See ¶14.
Bishop Bryan talked about the Praying Our Way Forward initiative and the timeline moving forward: (handout provided)
July 8, 2018 (no later than): Final report from the Council of Bishops released and officially sent to the Secretary of the General Conference and released electronically by the Council of Bishops to the whole church.
July 2018 - February 2019: Delegation prepares for General Conference 2019.
August 2018 & September 2018 - Bishop Bryan holds district meetings for laity and clergy to discuss the final report from the Council of Bishops.
February 23-26, 2019: Special Session of the General Conference
March 9, 2019 - South Georgia Information Session, Tifton, GA
June 2-5, 2019 - South Georgia Annual Conference Session, Columbus, GA
Mr. Bill Hatcher and Rev. Don Adams, lay and clergy heads of our delegation, introduced the members of the General Conference delegation and shared their thoughts on A Way Forward and their plans for the upcoming called General Conference Session in St. Louis, Missouri.
Noon Liturgy and Communion
The noon liturgy was led by Rev. Stacey Harwell-Dye as members read together the prayer of St. Francis and then shared in Holy Communion.
In the business session Tuesday afternoon, the conference:
passed a resolution submitted by five members of Fort Valley United Methodist Church that calls on the South Georgia Conference to “affirm the present standards of our Discipline” and also asks that the Secretary of the Annual Conference, within 60 days, share a copy of the resolution and the vote count (431 yes, 179 no) 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. The resolution included one amendment:
At line 17 of the resolution add: 2019 General Conference will affirm the present standards of our Discipline with added accountability for punitive actions if the present standards of our Discipline are not adhered to and found to be blatantly violated within or outside the conference in which the violation occurs. This would restore integrity.
heard a report from the Conference Council on Finance and Administration (CFA) given by Mr. Randy Griffin, chair of CFA, and approved a budget of $10,062,826.00. This budget is a nearly 6 percent decrease from the 2018 budget. Most of the decrease is due to a reduction in the Pre-82 pension apportionment of $650,000. Read more here. CFA expressed their appreciation to Mrs. Miriam Hagan, retired treasurer of the Annual Conference, for her stewardship of these funds over the year.
showed appreciation for the hard work and gracious hospitality of the Coastal District and the Local Arrangements Committee as well as the Conference Worship Committee, Conference Secretary and all of those who work to put on Annual Conference.
accepted an invitation to hold the 2019 Annual Conference session in Columbus June 2-5, 2019. Dr. James Crosse, member of St. Luke UMC, will serve as the Chair of Local Arrangements.
Service of Sending Forth
Annual Conference 2019 ended with a Service of Sending Forth as Bishop Bryan encouraged each person to ask themselves, “Where am I stretching?”
“We hold our communities in our hands,” Bishop Bryan said, as he held a small globe stress ball. “Hope is a wonderful thing. Where are you bringing hope in your community? Stretch out in ministry to the world. Stretch out your hands to the world.”
Following his message, the names of those receiving a new appointment were read. Click here to view the 2018-2019 Clergy Appointments.
The 2019 Annual Conference Session will be held in Columbus, GA June 2-5, 2019.