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2007 East Ohio Annual Conference

June 18-21, 2007, Lakeside, Ohio

Bishop John Hopkins presided over the 38th East Ohio Annual Conference held at Lakeside with the theme "This is Our Story."

Hopkins challenged delegates in an Episcopal Address focusing on evangelism, mission and advocacy. "Evangelism is sharing the Good News that is in Jesus Christ; God has changed our lives. And God is changing lives in East Ohio," he said. He encouraged delegates to tell how God has changed their lives-starting in the auditorium and the small community where the conference was held. He asked them to continue telling their stories to the people in their churches and to anyone who needs to know God's love.

Hopkins announced a mission initiative called the 3C's, which stands for Churches, Clinics and Classrooms, with new mission work in West Africa, Zimbabwe and Russia.

"I like to think of advocacy as standing besides someone, cheering them on, letting them know they are not alone. God is with them, and I am there as a symbol of God's presence. What we are doing in East Ohio is making a difference. We are helping God change lives. Evangelism, mission and advocacy are contagious," he said.

"Each of us is here today because someone cared enough about us to tell how God had changed their lives. And now, their story has become our story and it is our turn to pass it on."

The conference warmly welcomed guest speakers Bishop Thomas Bickerton of the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference; the Rev. James Roberson, Canal district superintendent; and the Rev. Wanda Wilson, Southern Hills district superintendent.

Bishop Hopkins ordained five elders and two deacons. He commissioned nine probationary elders.

In other conference business, members approved the following annual conference resolutions and petitions:

  • East Ohio Conference commits itself to educate congregations and individuals to empower them to step into a mission of political responsibility and help strengthen the political system of the state of Ohio by advocating for the poor;
  • Conference and churches will offer opportunities to study the issue of global climate change and to increase recycling efforts and energy conservation;
  • Local churches in the East Ohio Conference join the growing faith-based response as "Zero Violence Tolerance Churches," providing resources for victims and families impacted by domestic violence. It also urges collaboration among churches, community service agencies and other interested parties seeking to increase education and direct support as part of the solution to domestic violence;
  • The East Ohio Conference encourages Camp Aldersgate, Camp Asbury, Camp Wanake and the Lakeside Association to study the feasibility of using fair trade products through the UMCOR Coffee Project and the Interfaith Foodservice Program at their sites.

Delegates approved the following General Conference petitions:

  • Granting the Order of Deacons Sacramental Privileges;
  • Urging the U.S. government and the Supreme Court to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to give a visa to an alien who was fathered by a U.S. citizen after 1950 in Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Kampuchea or Thailand; and
  • Granting voting privileges to associate members and full-time pastors.

Delegates contributed nearly $17,000 to be divided equally among three projects: The Bishop's Mission Initiative for Churches, Clinics and Classrooms; Nothing but Nets; and The Bishop's Discretionary Fund. In addition, delegates collected $3,123 following a challenge and initial $10 contribution from Bishop Bickerton who spoke passionately about the United Methodist Nothing But Nets effort to eliminate malaria.

There were 18 delegates elected to represent East Ohio at the 2008 General Conference in and 18 additional delegates elected to the North Central Jursidictional Conference.

Clergy delegates elected to General Conference are: Gary George, Canton; Valerie Stultz, Berea; Wanda Wilson, St. Clairsville; James Winkler, Wadsworth; Neriah Edwards, North Ridgeville; Julius Trimble, Warrensville; Marvin Brown, Cuyahoga Falls; Kenneth Chalker, Cleveland; and Paul White, North Canton.

Lay delegates elected to General Conference are: Jessica Vargo, Copley (delegation chair); Jerry Rinehart, Carrollton; Matthew Laferty, Crestline; Maggie Jackson, Warrensville Heights; Holly Grant, Damascus; Anita Jackson, Adena; Allen Laferty, Crestline; Paul Capelle, Willard; and Iris Andrews, Uniontown.

Clergy elected to the North Central Jurisdictional Conference are: Cynthia Patterson, Cuyahoga Falls; Linda Somerville, Akron; Armando Arellano, Garfield Heights; Orlando Chaffee, Youngstown; Benita Rollins, Delaware; Dan Bryant, Rocky River; Chester Harris, Canton; Michael Somerville, Barberton; and Delaine McGhee, Grafton.

Clergy alternates are: Saranne Nelson-Olin, Norwalk; Charles Yoost, Cleveland Heights; Ronald Heasley, Rittman; Bruce Batchelor-Glader, Port Clinton; and Michael Grant, Damascus.

Lay elected to the North Central Jurisdictional Conference are: Gail Applebee, Coshocton; Linda Crowell, Oakwood Village; David Hartong, Massillon; Jane Ruggles, Alliance; Betty Wilson, Orondale; James Ehrman, Berea; Jeanette Kraus, Delaware; Ellen Burrows, Hudson; and Harry Askin, Westlake

Laity alternates are: Linda Haswell, St. Clairsville; Martha Wason, Sheffield Village; TaJauana West, Navarre; Dick Payne, Mt. Vernon; and Jim Kelly, Akron.

Membership stands at 177,037, down 3,062 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 69,713, down 892. The conference reported 25, 032 in church school attendance in 2006.

-Kay Panovec