Saturday, May 30, 2009

Annual Conferences of the United Methodist Church

As I write this, I am getting ready to go to our annual gathering (hence the name Annual Conference) of United Methodist in each Conference. Our conference is the SC Conference. Each local church, like Bethel, has lay and clergy delegates as their representatives. All clergy are members of the Annual Conference, and each local church has at least one lay delegate. Depending on the size of the local church, there are more delegates. Bethel has five lay delegates in addition to my associate and me as their representatives.

We do what you might expect. We set a budget for the new year. Because of economic issues in our state, we are going to set a budget with a huge decrease. District Superintendents are taking a 4% decrease in salaries, and The Methodist Center in Columbia may see as many as four less employees based on the recommended budget. We will also elect officers to fill the positions of leadership that are needed. We will hear reports from Colleges, Retirement Homes, and ministries throughout our Conference and beyond.

We will have Bible Studies and Worship services for our learning and encouragement. We will ordain (actually the Bishop ordains) pastors for service to the church. We will retire those who have reached that age and status. We will remember those who have died since last Annual Conference. At the end of the week, we will hear the Bishop send forth all of us for service. Pastors will be appointed to their place of service for another year.

This year we will debate and vote on 32 amendments to the Constitution of the United Methodist Church. To pass, two thirds majority vote is required from all lay and clergy delegates to every Annual Conference in the whole church. Some amendments simply recommend editorial changes. Others call for a sea change in relationship to the church in the world, in other countries. There is concern (which I share) that a "yes" vote on the so-called "World" amendments may lead to a fragmentation of the United Methodist Church. I will vote "no" on the "world" amendments.

All in all, Annual Conference is a time of fellowship, worship, and planning as we move from one year to another. I will see friends from other churches where I have served. I may even see friends from the church where I grew up. I will see clergy friends from all over the state. And, we will celebrate that God has led through another year.

The first song sung at every Annual Conference since the beginning of Methodism is an old Wesley hymn: "And Are We Yet Alive..." As we have another Annual Conference, my prayer is that God's Holy Spirit will drive our every decision.

Dave Nichols

1 comment:

  1. It is very interesting for me to read this blog. Thanx for it. I like such themes and anything connected to this matter. I would like to read a bit more soon.



Thanks for checking out my blog. I'm new to this, as you can probably see. But, I, like you, have convictions and ideas worth sharing. I hope this will be an opportunity to connect with others who are Christian and/or religious. I am happily United Methodist. I am committed to the basic teachings of our church, and to the compassionate outreach to the world.

I hope these pastoral ponderings will generate something in you that is hopeful.

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About Me

A graduate of Newberry College and Duke University Divinity School.  I have served as a pastor in the United Methodist Church since 1975.

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