Monday, June 13, 2011

Final Comments on SC Annual Conference

Everyone who is a United Methodist should experience a trip to the Annual Conference at least once. For clergy, the Annual Conference is their church, in a sense. Clergy church membership is held in the Annual Conference. Pastors are likely to know each other across the years; so, Annual Conference is for them a time of fellowship and catching up with friends that they haven't seen since last year. The Annual Conference receives those who are called to full-time ministry and examines them. Through the Annual Conference pastors as they start out are tested and tried. If they pass the tests, they are admitted to membership in the conference and ordained to service. Clergy/pastors are ordained to serve now in two ways as Deacon or Elder. Deacons are ordained to service in the local church and may serve as ministers in areas of music, youth, or education. Some serve as Associate pastors in churches but may not be the Senior/lead pastor of a church. They may assist Elders in serving Holy Communion.

Elders are the pastors of churches or chaplains in the military or other settings. Elders are ordained to preach the word, administer the sacraments, order the life of the congregation and serve in the world.

For the clergy, the Conference is their church. For lay people the Annual Conference is an extension of the work and ministry of the local church. Through the Annual Conference we share in common ministry in a larger way than we could possibly do alone. Each church is given a certain number of delegates based on membership. And, Annual Conference membership is adjusted to make sure there are an equal number of lay and clergy members.

Annual Conference also affords us the opportunity to worship in a large setting, and experience the diversity of worship styles throughout the conference.

This year we approved a budget for the Annual Conference that is lower than this year's budget based on the still-sluggish economy. We elected our officers from nominations. And, we established a Task Force to study the number of disticts (currently 12) to determine where the SC population has shifted and how many districts we might now need.

Our Bishop will have been in the SC Annual Conference for eight years next year. The term is eight years in one place, but can be extended for four more years is needed. So, we might have a new bishop appointed next year depending on the needs of the whole Jurisdiction (southeastern).

We elected 36 lay and clergy delegates to attend General and Jurisdictional Conferences in 2012. And, those delegates unananimously approve Dr. Tim McClendon as the episcopal candidate (to run for bishop) next year at Jurisdictional Conference at Lake Junaluska.

It was an exhausting and exilerating week as we worked and prayed and worshiped together. Your pastors are back for another year, appointed by the bishop. I am happy to be at Bethtel Church. What a great church.

Dave Nichols

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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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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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