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2007 Central Pennsylvania Annual Conference

June 6-9, 2007, Grantham, Pa.

"Anyone who is a leader and is not immersed in Scripture is simply a part of a club," said Bishop Jane Allen Middleton to 1,100 United Methodists at the beginning of the annual meeting of the Central Pennsylvania Annual Conference at Messiah College.

The meeting was the 219th time United Methodists and its predecessor denominations met for legislative and celebratory sessions. A barbecue on the lawn, complete with country band and dunking tank, opened the four-day session. Bishop Middleton joined other conference leadership in the dunking. Her "big plunge" alone raised almost $6,000 toward the debt for Mission Central, the conference's center in Mechanicsburg for disaster relief, mission outreach and education.

In opening remarks to the conference, Bishop Middleton focused on the need for transformational leaders. After noting that many pastors are trained to provide pastoral care and engage in ministry within the church, Bishop Middleton urged clergy and laity to "cast a vision for where God is calling us" and said: "We count on leaders who are willing to risk everything." Bishop Middleton emphasized that leaders find their strength and encouragement in Scripture to "make disciples for the transformation of the world."

In its legislative session, the conference moved to:

  • Tithe 20 percent of the interest earnings from the deposit accounts of the Conference Board of Pensions to the pensions of the Central Conferences;
  • Support the denomination's Global AIDS Fund;
  • Call for a speedy resolution of the war in Iraq, full support and services for veterans, and the rebuilding of Iraqi infrastructures;
  • Encourage local churches to study Israeli / Palestinian issues;
  • Designate Mental Health and TV Awareness Weeks; and
  • Include Bermuda within the boundaries of the Northeastern Jurisdiction.

Also approved were petitions to the 2008 General Conference: allowing members elected to staff-parish relations committees to succeed themselves one time; and recommending a number of actions to increase the denomination's emphasis on peacemaking.

The conference tabled a plan that would have reorganized the nine districts of the conference into seven. It approved a Board of Pension plan requiring its retired clergy to contribute to the cost of their medical coverage based on their years of service.

An $11.2 million plan for funding ministry, which included an additional $100,000 for church vitalization and startup, was approved for 2008.

Conference treasurer Zedna Haverstock reported that the Central Pennsylvania Annual Conference paid 100 percent of its apportionments for 2006. This represents 11 years of uninterrupted commitment to the connection and paying the General Church apportionments in full.

Special offerings totaled $69,080.

Lay delegates elected to the 2008 General Conference are: A. Vance Hart II of Williamsburg (head of delegation); Zedna M. Haverstock of Mechanicsburg; Shirley J. Sowers of York; Joshua Tobias of Chambersburg; Ethan Shearer of Etters; Benjamin Harvey of Red Lion; and Gary D. Sowers of York. Alternates are: Rebekah Wilcox of Harrisburg and Judith C. Hill of Harrisburg.

Clergy delegates elected to General Conference are: Mark J. Webb of York (head of delegation); Anthony C. Alexander of Harrisburg; Deborah J. Heisley-Cato of Harrisburg; Lewis A. Parks of Mechanicsburg; Pamela H. Ford of State College; Timothy R. Baer of Chambersburg; and Kathleen Kind of Lock Haven. Alternates are: Thomas L. Salsgiver of Mechanicsburg and Dennis R. Keller of Camp Hill.

Lay delegates elected to the Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference are: Rebekah Wilcox of Harrisburg (head of delegation); Judith C. Hill of Harrisburg; Edward C. Keller of Bloomsburg; Trent Davis of York; Joan Baxter of Danville; Loretta P. Prouse of Halifax; and Daniel J. Moseler of Harrisburg. Reserves are: William S. Keiser of Trout Run and Milton W. Loyer of Mechanicsburg.

Clergy delegates elected to Jurisdictional Conference are: Thomas L. Salsgiver of Mechanicsburg (head of delegation); Dennis R. Keller of Camp Hill; Phyllis M. Bowers of Jacobus; Michael V. Minnix of Mechanicsburg; Dennis L. Otto of Williamsport; Samuel L. Sheffler of Lewisburg; and James M. Dawes of Hershey. Reserves are: Y'Lon Dozier and Jennifer H. Williams, both of Harrisburg.

Bishop Middletown ordained nine elders. Twelve pastors retired. Two candidates were commissioned as probationary deacons, and five as probationary elders.

Membership stands at 143,851, down 2,713 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 67,983, down 449. Church school attendance stands at 27,815, down 176.

--Gerald F. Wolgemuth