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Recap of Sunday, June 4 

Opening Worship 

The South Georgia Annual Conference, meeting at the UGA Tifton Conference Center in Tifton, Ga., gathered Sunday, June 4 for its opening worship service. This year’s theme is “When They Prayed,” based on Acts 4:31. 

“If ever there was ever a time for this scripture in my lifetime, it is right now,” said Bishop David Graves, episcopal leader of the South Georgia Conference. “A time where God's people would come together and pray, where the Holy Spirit would begin to speak the Word of God with boldness, and where the place would shake - all because they had gathered.”

Bishop Graves encouraged those in attendance to be poised, purposeful, and prophetic as they move forward as God’s people and pray bold prayers.

“Friends, God is looking for those who want to be bold and courageous in these days to proclaim the Good News of Christ in ways we've never seen before,” said Bishop Graves. “I believe the best days of the Church are in front of us, but we have to do the work. We have to meet God where God is at work.” 

The 2023 Special Offering for South Georgia’s church planting and revitalization efforts was collected during the service, totaling over $8,000. Donations can continue to be given at Special Offering 2023.  

The Clergy Session and the Laity Session immediately followed the opening worship service.

Laity Session

J. Knapp, Conference Lay Leader, called the meeting to order. Knapp has served as the conference lay leader for four years.

Knapp, Anne Bosarge, Associate Director for Connectional Ministries, and Dana Goshorn, member of Mulberry Street UMC in Macon, led the laity in a time of focused prayer.

Denise Rooks, South Central District Lay Leader, then gave the greeting, welcoming lay members to Tifton for the 2023 Annual Conference Session.

John Ray, Northeast District Lay Leader, gave an overview of lay members’ responsibilities. 

“We are a laity driven church,” said Ray. “You as laity have a tremendous responsibility as we move to a bright future making disciples of Jesus Christ.” 

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.”

She introduced via video Sally Vonner as the new General Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of United Women in Faith. 

Barnes then shared with the group a video about the UMM devotional app, ways to connect with scripture, scouting, and one another. He also announced that the South Georgia Conference UMM would be sending a monetary gift to Andrew College for United Methodist Students from the Roy Lifsey scholarship fund. 

Knapp introduced the Laity Cabinet: Harley Lawson, North Central District Lay Leader, John Ray, Northeast District Lay Leader, Robert Campbell, Northwest District Lay Leader, Denise Rooks, South Central District Lay Leader, and Karen Forrester, Southwest District Lay Leader.

Harley Lawson, North Central District Lay Leader, went over the duties and expectations of a delegate to General and Jurisdictional Conferences. 

“We believe that there is a future, a bright future, for The United Methodist Church and for our annual conference,” said Lawson as he spoke about the delegation. “Together, we are committed to working for that future. In ways seen and unseen, the Spirit is moving among us. This is a day of new beginnings.”

Robert Campbell, Northwest District Lay Leader, then led a time in which those who put themselves forward as a candidate to General and Jurisdictional conferences gave speeches introducing themselves and asking for consideration to serve on the delegation.

Karen Forrester, Southwest Lay Leader, offered a closing prayer.

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