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2007 New England Annual Conference

June 8-10, 2007, Wenham, Mass.

New England Annual Conference met in holy conferencing June 8-10 following a clergy session on the evening of June 7. The theme of "A Frame-Bending Outlook" was woven through the three days as more than 1,000 clergy and lay representatives shared in worship, business, fellowship, learning and inspiration.

Emphasizing the theme, Bishop Peter Weaver opened with a moving sermon based on Revelation 21:1-5, calling New England United Methodists to bend the frame - to move into the future with a broader view that enables us to see, reach out, welcome and serve people in our neighborhoods and beyond. "We need a frame-bending outlook - an outlook that sees beyond our own needs and seeks, in the words of the Book of Revelation, to make all things new," he said.

Honored guest Bishop Roy Sano furthered that theme with a keynote message and Bible study based on Hebrews 13:1-12: "Let mutual love continue. &ellipsis; Show hospitality to strangers, for by doing so some have entertained angels without knowing." Bishop Sano challenged the conference to practice "radical hospitality" in our churches and in our own lives. Radical hospitality reaches across barriers of nationality and race, age and place, culture, gender and class. It also reaches across taboos such as AIDS and mental illness. It does not neglect to do good and share what we have.

The Denman Evangelism Award was presented to layperson Karen Staake of the Cutler, Maine United Methodist Church for helping the church to grow its ministry. The clergy award was presented to the Rev. Santos Escobar and the Vida Abundante Church in Providence, R.I.

The lives and new eternal life of departed pastors, spouses and active lay members of the conference were affirmed and remembered during a memorial service that included the placing of stoles of departed loved ones on the altar by family members and a stirring musical performance by Tina Luce. Also memorialized were the ministries of four churches that are closing - the Dexter, Westbrook, Warren and Marion United Methodist churches.

Nineteen elders and local pastors were recognized for their new lives as retirees. A number of the retirees sang and offered reflections, and even Bishop Weaver danced on the stage during the celebration. The evening wrapped up with a sermon by Ziegler Preaching Award winner Joyce Whetstone.

The conference affirmed its covenant relationships with Nicaragua and West Angola and celebrated that more that 400 people from the conference have worked on volunteer mission teams to help restore Hurricane Katrina-affected areas.

Two people were ordained deacons, six were ordained elders, and six were commissioned for the work of an elder. During the ordination service, $3,075 was received for the Bishop's Discretionary Fund. Other offerings received during the conference session included $6,307 for central conference pensions (not including the publications amount), $3,348 for youth ministries, $4,571 for the Cooper Community Center and $3,620 for the Global AIDS Fund - totaling more than $20,922 in conference giving.

In business, the conference:

  • Approved a budget of more than $6.5 million, including more than $1.7 million for the general church and world missions;
  • Approved 13 resolutions including those on education and conservation related to global climate change, restating opposition to the war in Iraq, encouraging churches to speak out and act for peace, and promoting acceptance of and help for people with disabilities;
  • Gave $11,226 received from the United Methodist Publishing House to the Central Conference Pension Fund.

Lay delegates elected to the 2008 General Conference are: Bonnie I. Marden, Ralph R.R. Oduor, Will Green, Oscar W. Harrell II and JoAnn Carlotto.

Clergy delegates elected to General Conference are: Martin D. McLee, William (Scott) Campbell, Linda Campbell-Marshall, We Hyun Chang and Aida Irizarry-Fernandez.

Lay delegates elected to the Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference are: Donna M. Costa, Samuel Purushotham, J. Ronald Boucher, Paul A. Fleck, Fay Flanary, Melissa Yosua (alt), David A. Jackson (alt), Wesley Lavigne (alt), Dwight W. Crain (alt) and Richard F. Gross (alt).

Clergy delegates elected to the Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference are: Gary Shaw, Julie Todd, Wee-Li Tan, Laurel E. Scott, Wesley Palmer, J. Sandra Bonnette-Kim (alt), Paula Payne (alt), Michael B.W. Davis (alt), Cheryln F. Gates (alt) and Daniel (Dan) Weaver (alt).

Membership stands at 93,458, down 2,284 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 32,768, down 702. Church school attendance stands at 9,066, down 201.

Alexx Wood