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2007 Detroit Annual Conference

May 17-20, Adrian, Mich.

The Detroit Annual Conference met at United Methodist-related Adrian College, and the stewardship-based theme was "Abundance Given to Give."

In a spontaneous example of giving abundantly, conference members donated more than $3,000 to the United Methodist Global Aids Fund after the Rev. Donald Messer addressed the conference. Conference churches sent almost $55,000 for the opening worship offering for mission with covenant churches in Haiti and Liberia.

The abundant giving theme pervaded the whole conference, as members celebrated the collection of 603 tubs of school and health kits for the Methodist Church of Haiti, along with $9,000 in cash for shipping, 12,000 pairs of "seat covers" - new underwear for needy children - and record-breaking contributions to the Youth Service Fund.

Conference members heard a progress report from the Michigan Area Transition Team charged with developing a plan for a new annual conference in Michigan that will bring together the Detroit and West Michigan conferences in 2009 if approved.

Bishop Jonathan D. Keaton recognized Shirley Cook, a seven-time General Conference delegate, who chose not to run in this year's election.

The conference also celebrated giving 100 percent of its general church apportionments for the sixth year in a row.

The body adopted resolutions that:

  • Request that the President and Congress try or release detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

  • Call upon Gideon International to open its membership to "people of either sex and all trades, business and professions."

  • Expressed regret at the passage of Proposal 2 in November 2006, which eliminated Affirmative Action in Michigan.

  • Instruct boards and agencies to refrain from using water bottled by the Nestle Corp. and strongly encourage local churches to avoid using any water bottled by Nestle.

  • Called for an end of the war in Iraq.

  • Affirmed a 2006 resolution to oppose a war with Iran.

The conference voted to forward seven petitions to General Conference:

  • Addition of a paragraph to the Social Principles related to military and non-military budgets of nations and their effects on making "the world safer, healthier, sustainable and peaceful with justice&ellipsis;"

  • Addition of "A Call to Peacemaking" to the Book of Resolutions, urging peacemaking actions and programs at every level of the United Methodist Church.

  • Addition of a paragraph re: ""Direct Hire of Clergy" to set candidacy standards for clergy outside the Wesleyan tradition serving United Methodist churches.

  • Ask the General Conference to call on President Bush to try or release Guantanamo Bay detainees.

  • Amend Paragraph 160A of the Social Principles calling on governments to study the sustainability of water resources and the consequences of privatization of water resources.

  • Amend the United Methodist Constitution to ensure equal access of all persons to participate in the denomination's worship, sacraments and programs.

  • Amend Paragraph 214 of the Book of Discipline to make clear that "No person shall be excluded from membership in The United Methodist Church for reasons related to his or her sexual orientation or gender identity."

In other actions, the Rev. John Huhtala, director of connectional ministries, announced that Ministry Jubilee gifts from local churches in 2006 totaled more than $670,000. Ministry Jubilee provides churches the opportunity for designated giving to ministry and mission projects.

Bishop Keaton announced that the donation for pastors' pensions from the United Methodist Publishing House will go to pastors in the central conferences (in Africa, Europe and the Philippines).

The Board of Laity announced a new program to recognize "Laity Serving In Mission Everywhere." LSIME pastors and/or church councils are invited to nominate lay people who serve in their workplaces and/or communities by demonstrating what it means to be in ministry and mission. Conference Lay Leader Cathy Hazen announced the first two LSIME honorees: Ed Noel of Goodrich United Methodist Church, who built 1,000 frames for hand-pedaled carts for disabled people around the world; and Katy LeBrande, Newberry United Methodist Church, who has been on 67 Volunteers in Mission or VIM-like trips on four continents.

The conference presented the Denman Evangelism Awards to:

  • The Rev. Michael Sewicki, pastor of Pigeon-Salem United Methodist Church. The congregation has increased in size and in professions of faith and has become "outward looking."

  • Robert Bodine, a member of Lambertville United Methodist Church. He focuses on increasing the church by inviting people moving into the community to make Lambertville their church home.

Lay delegates to General Conference are Jackie Euper, Morrice, Mich.; Alexander Plum, Swartz Creek, Mich.; Jacquelin Washington, Detroit; Cathy Hazen, White Lake, Mich.; Lewis Tibbits, Sebewaing, Mich.

Clergy delegates to General Conference are Joy Barrett, Chelsea, Mich. (delegation chair); Charles Boayue, Detroit; Terry Euper, Okemos, Mich.; Tara Sutton, Flint, Mich.; James Tuttle, Saline, Mich.

Lay delegates to the North Central Jurisdictional Conference are Linda Schramm, Sandusky, Mich.; Wayne Bank, Lexington, Mich.; Paul Thomas, Kingsford, Mich.; Angela Hart, Warren, Mich.; Phares Noel, Detroit. Alternates are Diana Miller, Troy, Mich.; Diane Brown, Ann Arbor, Mich.

Clergy delegates to the North Central Jurisdictional Conference are Louise Ott, Saginaw Mich.; Jeffery Regan, Rochester, Mich.; Andrew Allie, Flint, Mich.; James Kellermann, Waterford, Mich.; Jack Harnish, Birmingham, Mich. Alternates are Ed Rowe, Detroit; J.D. Landis, Swartz Creek, Mich.

Membership stands at 100,384, down 2,044 or approximately two percent. Worship attendance stands at 48,961, down 1317. Church school average attendance stands at 14,740, down 979.

---Ann Whiting