South Georgia preps for 2014 Annual Conference session


Scores of South Georgia United Methodists will gather in Savannah June 1 through June 3 for the 2014 Annual Conference Session.

With a theme of “Know & Grow” from Acts 2:42 which says, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer,” this year’s Annual Conference session will focus on scriptural teaching and Bible study.

This year’s main business items will be the presentation of the Transition Team’s report, preparing for the transition to six districts, and celebrating the Conference’s nine current districts.

With a shorter-than-usual three-day session, the agenda will be full, said Conference Secretary Rev. Craig Hutto. A lot of important business must be discussed and accomplished in a short amount of time.

The 36-page Transition Team report contains information from work done during the past three years by three task force teams in response to the 2013 Annual Conference’s vote to reduce the number of districts from nine to six. The report also outlines how the new six districts will form and take shape, how they will function, and how each will continue in their disciple-making mission.

The report will be presented to the Annual Conference on Monday afternoon, June 2.

It may be read online at Conference members will receive it in the pre-conference mailing or, if they’ve opted to go paperless, download it from the Annual Conference session webpage (

As in years past, the highlight of the Annual Conference session will be the coming together of churches, clergy, and laity from across the South Georgia Conference. Large and small, rural and urban, all will come together to celebrate what God is doing in South Georgia and their oneness in Christ.

The 2014 Annual Conference session will commence on Sunday evening, June 1, with Bishop James King preaching during the opening worship service, which will include a service of Holy Communion.

It will continue Monday morning, June 2, with separate laity and clergy sessions, followed by the evening’s combined ordination and commissioning service with guest preacher Bishop Ken Carter, who serves as the episcopal leader of the Florida Conference.

Two gatherings, one for laity and one for clergy, are planned for Monday morning after their separate sessions. They are designed to provide time to visit with one another, know one another better, and for discussion of beliefs, convictions and concerns.

On Tuesday morning, the Conference will recognize and celebrate 20 retiring clergy. Each retiring clergy person will have a moment to address the Annual Conference. The memorial service for deceased clergy and clergy spouses will be held Tuesday afternoon with Rev. Tommy Martin preaching.

Woven between worship services will be plenary sessions for information sharing, celebration, inspiration, and decision-making. On Monday afternoon, the 13-member Transition Team will present their report; Tuesday morning will include discussion on the transition team’s report, if needed, and a report from the Council on Finance and Administration  

Retired South Georgia pastor Dr. Craig Rikard and North Georgia District Superintendent Rev. Sharma Lewis will lead two Bible teaching moments, one on Monday afternoon and the second on Tuesday morning.

The 2014 Annual Conference session will close on Tuesday afternoon, June 3, following the traditional “fixing of the pastoral appointments” for the coming year by Bishop King.

Throughout the three-day session, clergy and laity will have opportunities to put their faith into action by serving those less fortunate.

During the opening worship service on Sunday evening, June 1, the Conference will receive a special offering to support the ministry of Imagine No Malaria, a United Methodist Church effort to eradicate the disease.

At the 2011 Annual Conference Session, South Georgia United Methodists joined hands and hearts to give more than $75,000 in a single special offering for the cause. With those funds, more than 7,500 lifesaving mosquito nets were able to be purchased and distributed.

At this year’s Annual Conference session in Savannah, the Conference will again collect a special offering to support Imagine No Malaria in its quest to eradicate the disease. Each church is encouraged to receive an offering in the weeks prior to Annual Conference and bring the offering with them to Savannah.

Throughout the Annual Conference session, attendees are encouraged to donate items to the ministries and agencies of the South Georgia Annual Conference. A full list of requested items can be found at under the “Mission Emphasis” link.

Those who will not be in Savannah for the Annual Conference session are being asked to participate by giving in advance or sending their donation(s) with their church’s Annual Conference lay member.

Rev. Hutto will lead an Annual Conference informational webinar on Thursday, May 15. Questions about Annual Conference preparation, voting, participation, reporting, and more will be answered. To register, visit

All conference business and worship services will be held in the Johnny Mercer Theater at the Savannah Civic Center in Savannah.
Since downtown parking is often a challenge for Annual Conference attendees, event organizers have made a downtown parking pass available for purchase. The pass, which will cost $5 and may be bought at registration, will cover parking on the street and in area parking garages.

Those not able to attend the 2014 Annual Conference Session will still be able to keep up with everything that happens. All worship services and business session will be streamed live online at

Clergy and lay members to Annual Conference will receive the pre-conference mailing, which will include the Book of Recommendations and a copy of the District Study Report, by mid-May. Those who have opted to go paperless can view the pre-conference documents online.

For more information about the 2014 South Georgia Annual Conference Session, visit (Conference attendees should note that wireless Internet access will not be available in the Civic Center.)

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