Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Annual Conference was June 9-12 in Florence, SC. People associated with the United Methodist Church know that we are organized into conferences. The local church is a local conference, then come district conferences. We are in the Spartanburg District. Next is the Annual Conference which is presided over by a bishop. We are in the SC Conference or the Columbia Area. Finally, the General Conference comes along which meets every four years to write our Book of Discipline. The General Conference is made up of clergy and lay representatives from every Annual Conference in the world. Annual Conference does a number of things. The main actions are to set a budget for the next year, and to elect new officers for the next year. These are presented on the first day and then acted upon on the last day. Other business includes reports from our institutions- colleges (Spartanburg Methodist College and Wofford; Columbia College and Claflin), our Retirement homes (Greenwood, Orangeburg, and Florence), and our other ministries and agencies throughout the state. This is more a celebration than anything as we show our support of these fine institutions. We also do a lot of worshiping. You’d expect that from United Methodists. It goes all the way back to the earliest days of Methodism, back to the organizing conference of Dec. 24, 1784 in Baltimore, MD. We begin every conference with the Wesley hymn. Every conference in every place begins their meetings with the hymn: “And are we yet alive, and see each other’s face; glory and thanks to Jesus give for his almighty grace”. Every day we had a Bible study early in the morning. Those who wanted to get up early shared in a 7:30 Holy Communion Service. In addition, we had a service of worship in which we honored those clergy who were retiring. Another service for those clergy and family members who had died during the year. We had a conference-wide service of Holy Communion and we had our ordination service. The only way that a person may service in the United Methodist Church is to go through an extensive process of education and examination. Some are Local pastors who serve in the local area of their church under appointment of the bishop. Deacons are pastors who specialize in some area of service. They are ordained to Word and service. Elders are pastors who are ordained to Word, order, sacrament, and service. All of these pastors have gone through extensive examination by the Board of Ordained Ministry. The bishop ordains them, that means that he lays his hands on them as do other pastors and gives them the authority to do the work of ministry in the church. This ordination connection goes all the way back to our own John Wesley, and through him in the Anglican Church all the way back to the beginning of the church. We do not take this lightly. We wear the stole around our necks as a sign that we are wearing the yoke of Christ. Jesus says: “Take my yoke upon you…” And, the whole week ends with a worship service in which the pastors and churches are sent forth into the world for another year of service. Pastors are officially appointed to churches for another year. The word “conference” has been used in Methodist understanding since the beginning meaning more than just a meeting. It means a meeting of the church and with Christ to celebrate, pray, worship and go forth. This year, we welcomed our new Bishop, Jonathon Holston. He did a wonderful job of leading us into this next year. Always pray for the United Methodist that we may be faithful to Christ, always. Blessings! Dave Nichols

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