The morning worship was led by Rev. Daniel Medina, pastor of Nueva Vida UMC, Warner Robins First UMC, and associate director of Hispanic Ministries in the Office of Connectional Ministries.
“Jesus goes to places of deep suffering and pain, Rev. Medina said as he recounted the story of Jesus casting out demons in Mark 5. “Jesus always surprises us by where he goes.”
Jesus has not come to add to human misery but to free us from our misery and fears, he said.
“Jesus is still the Prince of Peace, the Lord of Shalom. Let us not be fearful,” Rev. Medina said. He encouraged those gathered to notice the marginalized, the homeless, the immigrant, and the refugee in their midst.
“Who is our Gerasene brother or sister today? God’s love transcends race, nationality, language, culture, status, and borders. It is a love that cries for justice and peace. It is a love that is deeply needed today.”
In the Business Session Wednesday morning, the conference:
heard a Ministry Moment Snapshot where Kelly Crane, Coastal district disaster response coordinator. “When we have storms, we come together. We come together and we serve. That’s what brings me hope.” Crane also shared opportunities South Georgia United Methodists have to serve and bring hope to those in times of crisis and disaster.
approved the church closings of Brooks United Methodist Church and Elko United Methodist Church.
heard a report from the Conference Council on Finance and Administration (CFA) given by Dr. Shane Green, chair of CFA and senior pastor of St. Paul UMC in Columbus, approved a budget of $7,936,868 for 2023, a reduction of $500,350 from the previous year. This budget is a 5.9% percent decrease from the 2022 budget. This budget does fill some local-church focused staff positions.
heard a final John Wesley Moment from Rev. Dave Hanson.
prayed a prayer of lament for harm done to Boy Scouts participants led by Mr. J. Knapp and Dr. Jimmy Asbell, both Eagle Scouts. The conference also recognized all Eagle Scouts, all Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and the positive impact of scouting ministry.
heard a word about the called session of Annual Conference set for August 20, 2022. Click here for more information.
showed appreciation for the hard work and gracious hospitality of the Northwest 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.
expressed appreciation for the clergy and lay staff who serve so faithfully and diligently in the Annual Conference.
accepted an invitation to hold the 2023 Annual Conference session in Tifton with a start date of June 4, 2023. Mr. Lamar Martin, member of Tifton First UMC, will serve as the Chair of Local Arrangements.
Service of Sending Forth
Annual Conference 2022 ended with a Service of Sending Forth and an episcopal address by Bishop Graves.
The six District Superintendents read the names of those receiving a new followed by a prayer from each District Lay Leader. Click here to view the 2022-2023 Clergy Appointments.
In his episcopal address, Bishop David Graves acknowledged that, like Jeremiah, life is hard and messy. He read Jeremiah: 20:7-18 and asked, “Are there days where you feel like Jeremiah?”
While all have had those feelings, he encouraged South Georgia laity and clergy to “chill out and do our work.”
“I want to be a part of a church that seeks to be in relationship with each other. If you walk away from each other you don’t have influence,” he said. “I want to be in a church that is more focused on the outside than the inside.”
He shared evidence of God’s work and goodness in his life, starting with the church he grew up in and was nurtured in through the last local church appointment he had.
“God kept speaking, ‘David, I called you. You are a bishop in The United Methodist Church because I allowed it. You have been preparing your whole life for this moment. Don’t you remember? Have you forgotten? I did not bring you to this day to leave.”
Bishop Graves urged South Georgia United Methodists to hold on and to keep making disciples in their local churches.
“Hold on. Let’s see what God is going to do. In the meantime, chill out and do your work.”
The 2023 Annual Conference Session will be held in Tifton, GA beginning June 4.