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2007 Iowa Annual Conference

June 7-10, 2007, Ames, Iowa

The Iowa Annual Conference was led by Bishop Gregory V. Palmer. The theme "Stewards of Money" was the 2007 expression of the multi-year theme of "Growing as Generous People."

United Methodists in Iowa saw increases in the church's land, assets, grant spending and local church spending, and gave more to annual conference and general church apportionments and requests, according to a report from the treasurer/director of administrative services.

The Iowa Annual Conference ranked in the denomination's top five annual conferences in increased giving for all the apportioned funds from 2005 to 2006, according to the Rev. Ken Sloane, director of connectional giving at United Methodist Communications. Among the support was more than 90 percent support for the Ministerial Education Fund and the Episcopal Fund. Giving to the Africa University Fund was at more than 102 percent. "When remittances to the General Church Apportioned Funds are slipping, any change of direction, even a fraction of a percent to the good, is something worth celebrating," Sloan said. "Iowa's average remittance percentage in 2005 was 72.37 percent, and in 2006 it was 87.31 percent, a jump of 15 percent!" Sloane said. He also reported that Iowa was the top giving conference for special offerings for Human Relations Day and United Methodist Student Day.

The Implementation Team reported on conference reorganization. Beginning July 1, there will be eight districts-each served by a district superintendent and field outreach minister, in addition to an administrative secretary. Four leadership development ministers will resource and develop leaders on the district and conference level. An additional transition is the naming of a second assistant to the bishop so that one will be for administration and the new assistant for connectional ministries.

Petitions to the 2008 General Conference were approved calling for: inclusion of the words "gender, gender identity, marital status, sexual orientation, and ability" to Article 4 on Inclusiveness of the Church; adding the words "We encourage civil authorities to enact laws that will ensure full civil and economic rights for persons in civil unions and marriages without regard to the gender of partners" to 161 G of the Book of Discipline; and striking the words, "The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching" and substituting "Although we are not of one mind concerning human sexuality, we affirm that God's grace is available to all, and we will seek to live together in a Christian community" to 161 G.

In addition, a resolution calling for "the United States to remove all troops as soon as logistically practical and to relinquish all military bases on Iraqi soil" was approved.

Members approved a budget of $29,590,852, a decrease of $83,251.

The Iowa United Methodist Foundation reported $5.3 million in new gifts, $4.3 million in distributed assets, a 10.3 percent return on the main fund and a 12.61 percent return on the growth fund. Overall the foundation manages $26,254,263 in assets.

Three evening celebrations centered on "Baptismal Reaffirmation: Celebrating the Embracing of the New Day," "It Is Possible: Celebrating the Missions and Ministries of the Conference" and "A Service for the Reception of Classes, Commissioning, and Celebration of Retirement."

Three were received into probationary membership and commissioned as deacons; 14 were received into probationary membership and commissioned as elders; one was recognized for completing the Course of Study; three were received into associate membership as permanent local pastors; and 10 were elected into full membership and ordained as elders. Thirty-two clergy retired. Some 15 clergy and 16 spouses were remembered in the annual memorial service, for which Bishop Palmer was the preacher.

Sixteen clergy and lay members were elected to be delegates to the 2008 General Conference.

Clergy elected are: Barrie Tritle of West Des Moines; Diane Eberhart of Grinnell; Brian Milford of Cedar Rapids; Christina Sung of La Porte City; Karen Dungan of Council Bluffs; Wesley S. K. Daniel of Des Moines; Edward Kail of Humboldt; and Dennis Coon of Waterloo.

Laity elected are: Philip Carver of Coralville; Inez Dawes of Des Moines; Sue Ney of Cresco; Norma Morrison of Muscatine; Lana Ross of Marshalltown; Jessica Ireland of Chicago; Twila Glenn of Des Moines; and Beverly Nolte of Des Moines.

Clergy elected as delegates to the North Central Jurisdictional Conference are: J. Robert Burkhart of Indianola; Jill Sanders of Cedar Rapids; Marvin Arnpriester of Council Bluffs; Robert Crandall of Des Moines; George White of Davenport; Kathleen Moore of Cedar Rapids; Annette Kruse of Anita; and Gary Armstrong of Fort Dodge.

Laity elected to be delegates to the North Central Jurisdictional Conference are: Kae Tritle of Clive; Jonathan Fell of Iowa City; Beverly Spencer of West Branch; David Stanley of Muscatine; Christian Nygaard of Wesley; Marcia Young of Dubuque; Noreen Kahler-Miller of McGregor; and Anne Nygaard of Wesley.

The membership of the Iowa Conference is 190,556, down 1.5 percent from the previous year. Average worship attendance was 66,786, down, 2.3 percent. Church school average attendance was 23,117, a 9.27 percent decrease.

--Arthur McClanahan