Leading SGAUMC Forward: A Bright Future with Hope

Recap of Monday, June 6


Laity Session

J. Knapp, Conference Lay Leader, called the meeting to order. Knapp has been the district lay leader for three years yet this is his first in-person meeting. “I hope we never again take fellowship for granted,” he said.
 

Debbie Hudgins, Coastal District Lay Leader, then gave the greeting, welcoming lay members to Columbus for the 2022 Annual Conference Session.
 

“Jeremiah reminds me that God is still in charge,” she said. “We have got a God who is worth waiting for. We are going to be Jesus’ hands and feet in every one of our districts because that is what we’re charged with doing. We will wait for God and be Jesus’ hands and feet when we’re back home.”

Knapp introduced the Board of Laity. 
 

Harley Lawson, North Central District Lay Leader, gave an overview of lay members’ responsibilities. 
 

“Your most important job is to take this, this connection, back to your congregations. Just picture a lamp with a long cord. That lamp is your congregation. You're the cord.”
 

Laity then heard a report from the United Women in Faith by Tara Jones, UWF president, and a report from the United Methodist Men by UMM president Don Barnes.
 

“We are United Women in Faith, a united sisterhood driven by God’s love,” she said, “Because love in action can change the world.”
 

Barnes, Chuck Cowart, and Larry Price presented a $7,500 check to Andrew College from the South Georgia UMM Endowment. 

Barnes then shared with the group the new UMM devotional app and United platform, ways to connect with scripture, scouting, and one another. 
 

Anne Bosarge, 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.
 

She also introduced Reset, a new initiative to help congregations return to their mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
 

Denise Rooks, South Central District Lay Leader, offered a closing prayer.
 

Morning Worship
The morning worship was led by Rev. Adriane Burgess, pastor at St. Mary’s Road UMC in Columbus. Reading the parable of the Good Samaritan from Luke 10, Rev. Burgess challenged those gathered to be moved with compassion. 
 

“Sometimes God’s business cannot be done from a distance. Sometimes our acts of mercy can’t be done at arm’s length,” she said. “Everything can’t be done at a distance. Sometimes we have to step down and get a little dusty to help someone else. Isn’t that how someone saved you? 
 

“We know what matters. To do God’s work in the name of Jesus. It is all about love and compassion. Let us be moved toward each other with compassion. Let us be moved toward our neighbors with compassion. Let us not miss a single person on the street because we are moved with compassion. Let us be moved with compassion with the powerful name of Jesus.”
 

Business Session

The Business Session of the 2022 Annual Conference opened with the historic hymn, “And Are We Yet Alive.” Bishop Graves called the 156th session of the South Georgia Annual Conference to order. This is Bishop Graves’ first Annual Conference to preside over as the resident bishop of the South Georgia Area.
 

In the Business Session Monday morning, the conference: 
 

  • welcomed Bishop David and Mrs. Nancy Graves to their first South Georgia Conference. 

  • celebrated the ministry and impact of Camp Connect, our conference’s summer camping program, in the first Ministry Moment Snapshot - segments highlighting the various ways we see God’s faithfulness in the South Georgia Conference - in a video Camp Director Suzanne Akins shared the ways the Camp Connect Leadership Team is preparing for a sprit-filled summer camp season. The camp lead team joined Akins on the video to highlight ways they are planning and preparing for the 600+ summer campers.

  • heard overviews of the standing rules, safe sanctuaries policy updates, and the resolutions. Rev. Doreen Smalls, chair of the resolutions committee, reported that resolutions 3, 5 and 7 have been withdrawn by the makers of the motion. 

  • heard a second Ministry Moment Snapshot where Rev. Garth Duke-Barton shared how he’s seen God’s faithfulness in and through the work of mission and ministry locally and around the world. 

  • presented a check for $20,214.70 to the Kamina Orphanage and the Wings of the Morning Aviation ministry of the North Katanga Conference. Receiving the check on the behalf of Global Ministries were Jim and Bernice Keech, SEJ mission advocates. 

In the Business Session Monday afternoon, the conference: 
 

  • heard a South Georgia Conference history moment from Rev. Dave Hanson. If John Wesley were here today, Rev. Hanson said, he would tell us to not do what he did in Georgia. Wesley came to Georgia full of ideals, ambition and full of himself. And he left 23 months later crushed, disappointed, and in deep despair. The colonists didn’t like his autocratic, dictatorial ways. He left Georgia in disgrace, fleeing a trial, and wrote in his journal, “I did not do what I hoped I would do but I did the best I could.”

  • heard the Board of Ordained Ministry report given by Rev. Fran Magoni, chair.

    • recognized those clergy who faithfully serve beyond the local church in an extension ministry appointment.

    • thanked Rev. Josh Bizzell for serving six years as the Board of Ministry Coordinating Registrar.

    • affirmed those clergy who have been elected into provisional membership and affirmed clergy for reception into full conference membership. Bishop David Graves 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 Member: Elder - Lauren Elizabeth West

      • Provisional Member: Deacon - Madelyn Mary Henderson 

      • Full Conference Member: Elders - Jonathan William Beckum, Nathan Christopher Lehman, Jeremiah Haynes Martin

  • heard a Ministry Moment Snapshot with Anne Bosarge, Bishop David Graves, and Rev. Abra Lattany-Reed as they talked about moving forward in making racial justice a priority in our conference. “Let’s hear the voices of other people and be quicker to listen than to speak,” Bishop Graves said. “If we can get to a better place today there’s hope for tomorrow.” It’s time to quit writing statements, he said. And while it’s a lifetime process, we can have conversations with people who are different, we can engage with others, we can create an environment that is conducive for those who want to do the work. Rev. Lattany-Reed would like congregations to commit to pray for awareness, healing, and reconciliation. “Prayer changes everything. We can start that now,” she said.

  • heard the report of the delegation in which they gave the results of a survey they sent and talked about disaffiliation and the postponement of General Conference to 2024.

  • approved a report from the Conference Trustees in which a process was affirmed that extends the terms of South Georgia’s current disaffiliation policy through December 31, 2024. “This action is to reduce the fear or the need to make a decision based on incomplete information,” said Dr. Jimmy Asbell, during the report. 

  • voted on and approved the disaffiliation of the following churches: Antioch, Barney, Claxton, Friendship (Bacon Co), Grace (Tift Co.), Kirkland, Laurel Branch, Liberty, McBride, Mizpah, Naylor, Park Avenue, Reidsville, Springfield, The Pointe, The Porch, Trinity (Seminole Co), Turkey Branch.

  • celebrated the Methodist Home for Children’s 150th anniversary.

The Service of Ordination with Commissioning

The Conference gathered Monday evening in the sanctuary of St. Luke United Methodist Church for the service for the Ordination with Commissioning. Bishop David Graves, episcopal leader for the South Georgia area, was the preacher for this service. 
 

In his sermon, Bishop Graves challenged the ordinands and those being commissioned to remember where they came from and to be all God calls them to be. He also shared a few guiding principles that have helped him be all God created him to be: stay in love with Jesus; ministry is best accomplished when you do it with a team; learn to be a great communicator; discipline yourself so no one else has to; don’t just work hard, work smart; change is a must; and handle success like you handle failure.

“We’re supposed to walk with each other so we can be all God created us to be. That’s my prayer for you.”

Bishop Graves presided over the ordinal rites and was assisted by Mr. J. Knapp, Conference Lay Leader, representing the laity, and Rev. Fran Magoni, Chair of the Board of Ordained Ministry, observed the ordinal rites. 

The following individuals were commissioned as Probationary Clergy Members: 

Probationary Member Commissioned for Ordination as Elder

Lauren Elizabeth West
 

Probationary Member Commissioned for Ordination as Deacon

Madelyn Mary Henderson
 

The following individuals were ordained as Full Conference Members:
 

Full Conference Member/Elders

Jonathan William Beckum

Nathan Christopher Lehman

Jeremiah Haynes Martin
 

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. Jim Morrow represented the Orders of Elder. Rev. Grace Guyton represented the Order of Deacon.
 

PHOTOS 

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