7:00 A.M. EST April 14, 2010 | NASHVILE, Tenn. (UMNS)
Bishop Hee-Soo Jung serves Holy Communion during the Northern Illinois
Annual Conference’s 2009 meeting. A UMNS Web-only file photo courtesy
of the Northern Illinois Annual Conference.
United Methodists will draw a new map of U.S. structures following May and June sessions of annual (regional) conferences.
United Methodist clergy and lay members in annual conferences in New York, New England and Pennsylvania will say goodbyes to friends and conference structures when they meet this May and June.
Members will say goodbye to Troy, North Central New York, Western New York, Wyoming, and Central Pennsylvania conferences and hello to the Upper New York and the Susquehanna conferences.
Troy Conference members in Vermont will join the New England Conference, and Troy members in northeastern New York will become part of the Upper New York Conference.
United Methodists will no longer be confused to find that the Wyoming Conference is composed of 300 congregations in northeastern Pennsylvania and southern New York. Pennsylvania churches in Wyoming Conference will merge with Central Pennsylvania Conference to form a new conference with a proposed name of the Susquehanna Annual Conference.
Wyoming Conference churches in New York will become part of the Upper New York Conference along with members of North Central New York Conference, Western New York Conference and the New York section of Troy Annual Conference.
Reduce number of bishops
These conference realignments result from membership losses that require four of the five U.S. jurisdictions to eliminate one bishop by 2012. Only the Southeastern Jurisdiction will retain the same number of bishops.
A member of the Florida Conference studies an amendment before voting in 2009. A UMNS file photo by Greg Moore.
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The North Central Jurisdiction will combine Minnesota Conference with the Dakotas Conferences to form one episcopal area. There will be no change in conference structures, but one bishop will preside over the conferences instead of the current two.
The South Central Jurisdiction will reduce the number of bishops from 11 to 10 by combining Nebraska, Kansas East and Kansas West into one episcopal area. There are no plans to change conference structures. The two states were served by one bishop prior to 1952 when the states became separate episcopal areas.
The Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops is exploring a variety of options for how to adjust to having one less bishop. Ideas include the Pacific Northwest Conference and Oregon-Idaho Conference becoming one episcopal area and possibly moving the Alaska Missionary Conference to link with another conference. The bishops will continue to explore these possibilities.
The Western Jurisdiction Committee on Conferences is proposing a merger of the Rocky Mountain and Yellowstone conferences to become the Mountain Sky Conference. The action would not reduce the number of bishops as both conferences are currently served by one bishop. The jurisdictional committee is also recommending redrawing the boundary lines of the Desert Southwest Conference.
The 2009 Western Pennsylvania Conference worships at Harbison Chapel at Grove City College. A UMNS photo courtesy of the Western Pennsylvania Conference.
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None of the talk of merger and even sad goodbyes will detract from ordination services that always highlight annual conference sessions. Men and women will kneel at the altar rail where superintendents and family members join the bishop in placing hands on the heads of those being ordained elders and deacons.
Many conferences also provide time for retiring clergy to speak to the assembly.
Once upon a time, clergy held their breath when the bishop announced the appointment of pastors, but that is no longer the case. Pastors know well ahead of time whether they will be returning to their former churches or packing for new assignments. The “fixing” of appointments by the bishop is generally ceremonial, and, in many cases, only changes are announced.
Most conference sessions begin with the singing of “Are We Yet Alive,” and there is usually a memorial service for conference members who have died during the year.
Worship, sermons and reports usually occupy most of the agenda. Members also consider conference budgets and frequently debate resolutions that address social justice issues or denominational policies.
*Peck is a retired clergy member of the New York Annual Conference and a freelance writer in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Annual conference schedules
NORTH CENTRAL JURISDICTION
Dakotas - June 9-12, Bismarck, N.D.
Detroit - May 20-23, Adrian, Mich.
East Ohio - June 14-17, Lakeside, Ohio
Illinois Great Rivers - June 2-5, Peoria, Ill.
Indiana - June 9-13, Muncie, Ind.
Iowa - June 5-8, Des Moines, Iowa
Minnesota - June 2-4, Saint Cloud, Minn.
Northern Illinois - June 13-16, Saint Charles, Ill.
West Michigan - June 3-6, Grand Rapids, Mich.
West Ohio - June 6-10, Lakeside, Ohio
Wisconsin - June 13-16, La Crosse, Wis.
Baltimore-Washington - June 2-4, Baltimore
Central Pennsylvania - June 4-5, Grantham, Pa.
Eastern Pennsylvania - May 20-22, Lancaster, Pa.
Greater New Jersey - June 3-5, King of Prussia, Pa.
New England - June 17-19, Wenham, Mass.
New York - June 9-12, Hempstead, N.Y.
North Central New York - June 18, Liverpool, N.Y.
Peninsula-Delaware - June 10-12, Princess Anne, Md.
Troy - May 22, Glens Falls, N.Y.
Upper New York - June 19, (uniting conference) Syracuse, N.Y.
West Virginia - June 10-13, Buckhannon, W. Va.
Western New York – June 4-5, Rochester, N.Y.
Western Pennsylvania - June 10-13, Grove City, Pa.
Wyoming - June 4-5, Scranton, Pa.
SOUTH CENTRAL JURISDICTION
Arkansas - June 6-9, Hot Springs, Ark.
Central Texas - June 6-9, Fort Worth, Texas
Kansas East - June 9-12, Leawood, Kan.
Kansas West - May 26-28, Salina, Kan.
Louisiana - June 6-9, Shreveport, La.
Missouri - June 4-7, Springfield, Mo.
Nebraska - June 9-12, Lincoln, Neb.
New Mexico - June 2–5, Glorieta, N.M.
North Texas - June 6-8, Wichita Falls, Texas
Northwest Texas - June 11-13, Lubbock, Texas
Oklahoma - May 30-June 2, Tulsa, Okla.
Oklahoma Indian Missionary - June 10-13, Preston, Okla.
Rio Grande - June 10-12, San Antonio
Southwest Texas - June 2-5, Corpus Christi, Texas
Texas - May 30-June 2, The Woodlands , Texas
Alabama-West Florida - June 6-9, Montgomery, Ala.
Florida - June 10-12, Lakeland, Fla.
Holston - June 13-16, Lake Junaluska, N.C.
Kentucky - June 9-12, Covington, Ky.
Memphis - June 6-8, Collierville, Tenn.
Mississippi - June 11-13, Jackson, Miss.
North Alabama - June 3-5, Trussville, Ala.
North Carolina - June 10-12, Greenville, N.C.
North Georgia - June 16-18, Athens, Ga.
Red Bird Missionary - April 23-24, Thousandsticks, Ky.
South Carolina - June 10-13, Florence, S.C.
South Georgia - June 6-9, Tifton, Ga.
Tennessee - June 13-15, Brentwood, Tenn.
Virginia - June 13-16, Norfolk, Va.
Western North Carolina - June 11-13, Lake Junaluska, N.C.
Alaska - June 4-6, Anchorage, Alaska
California-Nevada - June 16-19, West Sacramento, Calif.
California-Pacific - June 17-20, Redlands, Calif.
Desert Southwest - June 24-27, Glendale, Ariz.
Oregon-Idaho - June 10-13, Salem, Ore.
Pacific Northwest - June 17-20, Tacoma, Wash.
Rocky Mountain - June 17 20, Denver, Colo.
Yellowstone - June 10-13, Billings, Mont.
ANNUAL CONFERENCES IN AFRICA, ASIA, EUROPE
Austria Provisional - June 3-6, Vienna
Bulgaria Provisional - April 16-18, Russe, Bulgaria
Central Luzon - April 30-May 2, San Jose City, Philippines
Central Russia - June 16-18, Moscow
Czech & Slovak - May 28-30, Panenska,, Slovakia
Denmark - May 21-24, Frederikshaldsgade
East Germany - May 26-30, Leipzig
East Zimbabwe - Dec 17-19, Old Mutare
Eastern Angola - January 15, Malanje
Eastern Russia - July 2-4, Yekaterinburg
Estonia - June 18-20, Tallinn
Finland-Swedish - June 9-13, Jakobstad, Finland
Hungary Provisional - May 12-15, Szekszard
Liberia - Feb 15-21, Monrovia
Mozambique North - July 15-18
Mozambique South - Dec 10-13
North Central Philippines - May 17-19, Isabela
North Germany - June 2-6, Wuppertal
North Katanga - July 11-14
Northeast Luzon - May 13-16, Philippines
Northeast Philippines - May 20-23, Bintawan
Northern Philippines - June 3-6, Baggao
Northwest Philippines - April 7-10, Baguio City
Northwest Russia - June 10-13
Pangasinan Philippines - May 27-30, Lingayen
Poland - June 18-20, Katowice
Serbia/Macedonia Provisional - Oct 14-17, Strumica, Macedonia
Sierra Leone - March 2-7, Freetown
West Africa - Freetown, Sierra Leone
South Germany - June 9-13, Esslingen
Southern Russia Provisional - May 27-29, Voronezh
Switzerland-France - June 24-27, Strasbourg, France
Tanganyika - August 15-18
Tanzania - October 10-13
Tarlac Philippines - March 19-21, Tarlac City
Ukraine & Moldova - May 21-23
West Zimbabwe - Dec 10-12, Murewa