Bishop Richard Looney was the preacher for the Opening Worship Service. Bishop Looney was elected to the episcopacy in 1988 and was assigned to the newly-created South Georgia Area, where he served until his retirement in 2000.
The South Georgia Annual Conference, meeting on the banks of the Chattahoochee River in Columbus, Ga., gathered Sunday, June 2 for its opening worship service.
“We welcome home Bishop Looney to South Georgia,” said Bishop Lawson Bryan, as those gathered gave Bishop Richard Looney, South Georgia’s bishop from 1988-2000, a standing ovation.
“I hope we can reclaim the joy of sharing the Good News,” Bishop Looney said. “Share the Good News, do it in a winsome way. It doesn’t have to be complicated. God will use even you to bring salvation to someone who’s lost. And may you find joy - joy, joy - in sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ.”
The 2019 Special Offering for the Moscow United Methodist Theological Seminary was collected during the service totaling $19,095.89. With the money, South Georgia United Methodists have the opportunity to partner with United Methodists in Russia to help provide the means for students to attend the seminary and will help the seminary continue to be instrumental in helping revive Methodism in Russia.
The first day of the 2019 Annual Conference session was brought to a close with the laity gathering for the Laity Session in the main plenary hall and clergy gathering for their Clergy Session at the same time in the upstairs Dining Gallery of the Convention Center.
Gloria Morgan, Conference Lay Leader, called the meeting to order. John Ray, Northeast District Lay Leader, gave the opening prayer. Robert Anderson, Northwest District Lay Leader, then gave the greeting, welcoming lay members to Columbus for the 2019 Annual Conference Session.
Allison Lindsey, 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.
Laity then heard a report from the United Methodist Women by Carol Banks, UMW President, and a report from the United Methodist Men by UMM President Donald Rhodes.
J. Knapp, Southwest District Lay Leader, gave a brief orientation to Annual Conference. Afterwards, Jeff Hanson, North Central District Lay Leader, facilitated a time where lay persons who have declared their interest in being a General Conference delegate could speak for two minutes to those gathered for the meeting.
Gloria Morgan introduced each of the District Lay Leaders followed by a closing prayer from Jimmy Outlaw, South Central District Lay Leader.
A meet and greet was held immediately following the laity session, giving lay members an opportunity to speak to and ask questions of General Conference candidates.
Bishop R. Lawson Bryan convened his third clergy session as the episcopal leader of the South Georgia Annual Conference. Rev. Anthony McPhail, pastor of Centerville UMC, led the clergy in singing “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing.” Dr. Buddy Cooper, retiring Superintendent of the Northwest District, opened with a word of prayer.
Bishop Bryan welcomed all clergy and lay members of the Board of Ordained Ministry and clarified who could attend, speak, and vote at the clergy session.
Bishop Bryan then asked the Historic Question regarding the character of all clergy. The Bishop reported on the character of the District Superintendents. The District Superintendents reported on the clergy under their supervision. The character of all clergy was approved.
Rev. Scott Tucker, chair of the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry, reported on the work of the Board of Ministry. Dr. Josh Bizzell, BOM Registrar, then led us through the questions regarding licensing, ordination, and conference relations of clergy, with Bishop Bryan presiding over the body’s decisions.
Rev. Tony Crosby, pastor of Epworth UMC in Columbus, talked about the upcoming Georgia Pastors’ School, set for July 15 - 18, 2019, at Epworth By The Sea. Rev. Alaina Harrison announced the upcoming SEJ Clergywomen’s Conference Leadership Conference in Jacksonville, Fla., November 18-21, 2019. Bishop Bryan announced that Len Wilson, an expert strategist in communications and creativity in church life, will be the speaker for the 2020 Winter Conference, sponsored by Epworth By The Sea, January 26-29. Dr. Derek McAleer spoke about clergy pensions.
After conference secretary Dr. Nita Crump made announcements, Rev. Henry Bass, retiring superintendent of the South Central District, offered the closing prayer.