Recap of Tuesday, June 4

Morning Liturgy

The morning liturgy was led by Rev. Steve Bullington, pastor at Carter’s Chapel UMC and director of Green Bough House of Prayer, as members began the morning lifting their voices in praise with “Holy, Holy, Holy”/”Santos, Santos, Santos.”

 

Business Session

Clergy Voting for General and Jurisdictional Conferences

The following clergy were elected as delegates:

General Conference
Jim Cowart
Robert Beckum
Doreen Smalls
Jay Hanson

Jurisdictional Conference
Robert Greene (alternate to General Conference)
Scott Hagan (alternate to General Conference)
Jimmy Towson
David Thompson

Alternates
Scott Tucker
Alaina Harrison

 

In other business session Tuesday  morning, the conference:

  • heard another John Wesley moment from Rev. Dave Hanson. How would you feel if your son or daughter expressed an interest in going to a dangerous, foreign land to serve Christ? John Wesley was invited to move to the wilds of coastal Georgia as a pastor and chaplain. He liked the idea, prayed about it, and asked his mother her thoughts. Susanna looked at her son and said, “If I had 20 sons and they all went to Georgia as missionaries and I knew I would never see them again … I would be proud that they were so employed.” She knew the world is our parish.
     
  • heard an “Alive Together in the World” moment where Revs. Shannon and Aimee Baxter and Ed Haggerty shared about how UMCOR has lived up to its motto of being “the last to leave” here in South Georgia. In 2016 when Hurricane Matthew hit, South Georgia/UMCOR was the only ones engaged in long term recovery in Chatham County, which started with Rev. Stacey Harwell-Dye doing case management. Rev. Aimee Baxter picked up when Stacey moved and now - 3 years later - Matthew Recovery is finally winding down. Aimee shared stories of clients that she and Stacey have built  relationships with and walked alongside. Rev. Shannon Baxter shared about how partnerships with other faith-based organizations and agencies are crucial in the midst of recovery work. Shannon represented South Georgia/UMCOR at the funding table in Chatham County Ed Haggerty began representing South Georgia/UMCOR with Albany Relief & Recovery following the Albany tornados in January 2017. They were just about to close down a year later when Hurricane Michael hit in October 2018. Because they were an established group who had built capacity through these partnerships, they were able to pick back up right where they left off and serve the community.
     
  • were led by Dr. Gil Rendle in two teaching moments. “We are simply living in a different creation,” Dr. Rendle said as he explained the changes the culture has experienced in the past few decades. “Something needs to change. And it is us.” He outlined three temptations of leadership and said that we have to learn to ask different questions than have been asked in the past. “The better question,” he said, “is ‘What would God want us to make better next?’ Change the question we ask. Make it purposeful and faithful.”  It’s hard to change ourselves, though, and we have to unlearn the old to learn something new. He taught about the need to differentiate between scarcity and abundance, and said that congregations need to ask what difference they’ve been called to make. Instead of starting a new program or ministry, he suggested, find something God is already doing and join in. “Scarcity chasing scarcity will not work,” Dr. Rendle said. “But chasing God’s abundance will. We have to think differently. We have to be different."
     
  • approved the nominations report.

Noon Liturgy

The noon liturgy was led by Rev. Kevin Clotfelter, Associate Pastor at Centerville UMC and co-founder of Living Water Ministries. Rev. Clotfelter shared how he has found the exercise of journaling to be a rich, spiritual discipline. Walking members through journaling Mark 8:11-21, he encouraged us to investigate and practice spiritual journal keeping more so we can experience God in a powerful and transforming way.

 

Business Session

Laity Voting for General and Jurisdictional Conferences

The following laity were elected as delegates:

General Conference
Bill Hatcher
Jennifer Cowart
Allison Lindsey
Larry Price

Jurisdictional Conference
Richard Shinhoster (alternate to General Conference)
Brenda Adams (alternate to General Conference)
Chuck Cowart
Steve Rumford

Alternates
Debbie Turner
Jeff Barker

 

In other business Tuesday afternoon, the conference:

  • passed a Disaffiliation Policy with two amendments (see below). The Disaffiliation Policy was recommended by the Foundations for the Future of South Georgia Task Force and sets out a framework to be followed when a significant number of members of a congregation express a desire to leave the South Georgia Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church, pursuant to the provisions of paragraph 2553 of The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church. The intent of this policy is for when a congregation chooses to leave the Annual Conference, it be allowed to do so in as amicable a manner as possible. The Annual Conference also recognizes a responsibility to members of a local church who want to remain part of the Annual Conference, even if they are in the minority of their congregation. Under the provisions of this policy, a local church shall have a limited right to exit the denomination to be complete prior to December 31, 2023. The right expires on December 31, 2023 and the provisions of this policy and paragraph 2553 shall not be used after that date.

--Amendment 1 from Rev. Jim Morrow, pastor of Glennville UMC: Amend item “h” on lines 77-80 as follows. After the phrase “shall not use ‘Methodist’ in its name,” add the following phrase: “at any point after disaffiliation is complete, unless it affiliates with another denomination, association, or connection that includes the term “Methodist” in its name….” The first sentence would then read: h) A church that disaffiliates from the United Methodist Church shall not use “Methodist” in its name at any point after disaffiliation is complete, unless it affiliates with another denomination, association, or connection that includes the term “Methodist” in its name, nor shall it use the Cross and Flame in its logo. The use of the name “Methodist” and the use of the Cross and Flame implies that a church is part of a connectional denomination and should not be used for a non-connectional, separate and distinct church organization.

--Amendment 2 presented by Mike Coors, lay person from Lakeside UMC, and then amended by Dr. Wright Culpepper, that says, “In the event of disaffiliation, those wishing to remain as a part of the UMC will be given that opportunity according to current standards offered by the Discipline.” The two disciplinary paraagraphs referenced with this amendment were paragraphs 2549 and 229.

  • passed a Pension Liability Policy. The 2019 General Conference of The United Methodist Church passed provisions whereby an annual conference could charge a departing local church a portion of the overall pension liability of the annual conference. The General Conference left it up to annual conferences to determine what that share should be. In response, the Conference Board of Pensions of the South Georgia Annual Conference has considered the matter and has provided a report and recommendation. No payment is due from any church that remains in the South Georgia Conference; this recommendation would only apply to churches that choose to disaffiliate under the provisions passed by the General Conference and our South Georgia Conference.
     
  • heard an “Alive Together in the World” moment in which Rev. Scott Stanfill and Rev. Nate Lehman shared how their experiences in Albany when the tornadoes hit in 2017 enabled them to immediately begin to assist their communities of Colquitt and Donaldsonville. The strength in the connection was shared through grants received and generous donors. Although Colquitt UMC has not yet been able to worship in their sanctuary, they have not stopped being the church. They have not missed a Sunday, Wednesday night, or food bank ministry. Friendship UMC creatively placed 1,200 school kits in Seminole County schools after students returned after one month. A Conference mission trip to Sager Brown planned for September 29- October 4, 2019 is open to register.
     
  • approved the recommendations from the Conference Board of Pensions and Health Benefits. Mr. Marc Reid, chair of the board, announced that we have met our obligation to fully fund the pre-82 pension. Retired conference treasurer Miriam Hagan presented a check to Paula Whitbeck, a Wespath representative, for the final $1.7 million pre-82 payment. The conference was able to cut the pre-82 pension apportionment in half in 2019 and will cut in half again in 2020. Pastors under pre-82 pension will get a raise increase from $674 to $688 per service year. Dr. Scott Hagan announced that the monthly rate for HealthFlex will only go up $2 a month. Because of the good stewardship of the conference in the past we will continue to use past rebates to help offset the cost of insurance.
     
  • approved six standing rules changes:
    • change in Annual Conference Invitation Process: The first change is to standing rule 3.1.2 which is the procedure by which we identify the location of Annual Conference on a year-to-year basis. In the past we could receive an invitation several months in advance and have the time necessary to plan and organize conference. It’s not that simple anymore. Many of the venues we use require that we have contracts a year or more in advance. The local arrangements committee needs more than six months to plan for a group our size to come to town. We now issue a request for a proposal at least 18 months ahead of time. This change brings our standing rules in line with current practice.

    • change in Book of Recommendations (standing rule 3.1.3): Several years ago, the annual conference voted to publish all documents in an electronic format.We now ask persons submitting reports to do so in an electronic format. Receiving documents in this manner greatly enhances our ability to create the book of recommendations in a timely manner. This change brings our standing rules in line with current practice.

    • change in Resolutions and Petitions: The third change again acknowledges our conference vote to move to publishing all information in an electronic format.  We now receive all resolutions and petitions electronically. This change brings our standing rules in line with current practice.

    • change in distribution of materials at Annual Conference: The fourth change affects standing rule 3.1.5 regarding the distribution of materials. The annual conference voted to distribute materials by electronic means. We now publish all materials needed on the conference website. People may download the materials to an electronic device or may print the materials out to bring with them.  We no longer provide printed materials. This change brings our standing rules up to date with current practice.

    • change to Connectional Ministries (conference database): A fifth change concerns standing rule 4.1.3.3 which states that one of the responsibilities of connectional ministries is to maintain the conference database. In the last several years, as we have a conference database that can communicate with the databases used by administrative services, the maintenance of all databases has moved to that office. This change brings us up to date with current practice.  

    • Change regarding proceeds from sale of discontinued and/or abandoned church property.  Petition 90016, presented and adopted at general conference 2019, specified that any church that changes its relationship with the united methodist church, including through abandonment and/or closure, is required to pay the outstanding pension liability for that church.  This change brings our policy regarding discontinued and/or abandoned property into line with that petition.

  • approved a report from Equitable Compensation given by Rev. Robert Greene, pastor of Porterfield Memorial UMC and chair of the committee. For 2020, the committee recommended a 2.0% increase to the 2019 base salary for all categories. They commended the District Superintendents and local church committees (SPRC, finance, admin boards, etc.) for diligently working over the past years to help many churches sustain salary levels in keeping with the covenant of The United Methodist Church. As part of implementing the arrearage policy approved last year, the committee presented a list of those churches with arrearages greater than 180 days. The total debt greater than 180 days is $862.570.19.

  • expressed appreciation for the clergy and lay staff who serve so faithfully and diligently in the Annual Conference.

  • Elected at-large members of the nominations committee: Laity - Robert Anderson, Linda Bagwell, Jeff Barker, Angela Johnson, Cater Starling and Debra Williams; Clergy - Bill Culpepper and Jimbo Dominey

Evening Liturgy

The evening liturgy was led by Dr. Josh Bizzell, pastor at Warner Robins First UMC. Dr. Bizzell asked members to take a moment to be still and find a comfortable posture for reflection. “Know that you are in the presence of God," Dr. Bizzell said. "What do you notice about God? What do you realize about yourself? How do you feel? What is God communicating to you? God is a fire, lighting your darkness, warming and guiding you, refining your soul, and consuming all that stands in the way.”

 

Photos from Tuesday, June 4

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