During the 2018 Annual Conference session, delegates heard Vital Signs moments from the Office of Congregational Development and Connectional Ministries. These Vital Signs moments highlighted areas in the South Georgia Conference that are alive and vital and ways the conference is “Alive Together in Worship.”
During the Monday, June 4 afternoon business session, Rev. Jay Hanson, director of Congregational Development, highlighted a couple of the Conference’s churches that are seeing increases in worship attendance. He was joined by Rev. Barry Giddens, pastor of Waycross First UMC; Rev. Mike Myers, pastor of Trinity UMC in Waycross; and Revs. Alaina and Greg Harrison, pastors of Wesley UMC in Macon.
Both Waycross First UMC and Trinity UMC have experienced double-digit growth despite being located near one another, and Rev. Giddens and Rev. Myers attribute it to a few key elements: a strong focus on evangelism, being intentional, and working through a process/having a plan.
When Revs. Alaina and Greg Harrison were appointed to serve Wesley UMC in Macon, they sat down with church leaders and, over the course of two months, had intentional conversations and together developed a vision and plan for the church.
“You found your niche and are doing it well,” Rev. Hanson said of the growth Wesley UMC has experienced.
Tuesday morning, June 5, Dr. Matt Woodbery introduced the Connectional Ministries team and shared highlights - “Blueprints” - from each ministry area and ways Connectional Ministries helps resource and equip South Georgia laity and pastors to make disciples for the transformation of the world.
Associate Director and 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.
The Camp Connect summer camp was highly visible during the entire Annual Conference session, as members of the summer camp Leadership Team served in several capacities, from helping delegates park to BEACH Camp counselors to leading the morning devotional on Tuesday morning along with the BEACH camp campers.
Associate Director of Hispanic Ministries Rev. Daniel Medina shared the stage with Jaime Gallaga, member of Casa de Vida y Paz, part of the Bainbridge Hispanic Mission, and Haroldo Vicente, member of El Faro, the Hispanic ministry in Albany, as they highlighted community ministries extending from the Hispanic churches in Bainbridge and Albany. Gallaga and Vicente told of the growth their churches have experienced and expressed thanks to the Conference for its support of Hispanic ministries and outreach.
Rev. Stacey Harwell-Dye, chair of the Conference’s Advocacy Team, shared the work of the team and interviewed Rev. Ashley Randall to highlight the team’s 2018 focus on ending extreme poverty. Rev. Randall shared his passion for ending extreme poverty and also wrote an article reflecting his thoughts, which may be read here. Rev. Earnestine Campbell is the Associate Director related to the Advocacy Team.
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. Rev. Earnestine Campbell is the Associate Director related to these two task forces.
Status of the Undocumented Neighbors Task Force, chaired by Rev. Brett Maddocks
Status of the Multicultural Task Force, chaired by Rev. Pat Burns
Allison Lindsey, Associate Director of Connectional Ministries and a member of the board of directors for Global Ministries, introduced Dr. Simbo Ige, Executive Director of Global Health for Global Ministries, who shared about the Abundant Health initiative.
To support Global Ministries’ Global Health focus of extending health interventions to one million children by 2020, a portion the 2018 Annual Conference Special Offering was received for Global Ministries. Tuesday morning, June 5, Bishop Bryan presented a check for $29,029.95 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.