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2007 South Georgia Annual Conference

June 3-7, 2007, Savannah, Ga.

Meeting under the theme "By All Means," South Georgia United Methodists focused on tangible evangelism during their 2007 Annual Conference at the Savannah Civic Center.

"A major priority for every Christian is to share faith with others so all can experience the benefits of salvation," said Bishop B. Michael Watson, resident Bishop of the South Georgia area. "This year's theme encourages us to follow Paul's example by prayerfully reaching out to people in ways that will instantly bring a connection so our faith in Christ can be authentically shared."

The conference celebrated the 300th birthday of Charles Wesley in an uplifting opening worship service. Bishop Watson challenged conference members with two questions: "Are we willing to be the means God can use in our day?" and "Are we willing to use all of the means at our disposal to make disciples of Jesus Christ to save souls and transform the world?"

Hundreds of members took this challenge and, for the second year in a row, scattered across Savannah to be witnesses of faith in Jesus Christ in various service projects. This Day of Service on June 6 was a tangible way for members to reach out to their neighbors "by all means."

Conference members elected delegates to the 2008 General and Jurisdictional Conferences. Lay delegates elected to General Conference include: Charlene Black (chair) of Sylvania; Bill Hatcher of Statesboro; Roy Blackwood of Statesboro; Sunshine Bird of Rincon; Taylor Phillips of Macon; and Steve Rumford of Macon.

Clergy delegates to General Conference include: Hal Brady of Columbus; Joseph Roberson of Columbus; Bob Moon of Macon; Mike McAfee of Albany; Brad Brady of Macon; and Robert Beckum of Americus.

Lay delegates elected to the 2008 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference are: Miriam Hagan of Statesboro; Gloria Gilmore of Savannah; Mark Shelnutt of Columbus; Richard Shinhoster of Savannah; Lee Bush of Bainbridge; and Flo Martin of Warner Robins.

Clergy delegates to the 2008 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference are: Cindy Autry of Columbus; Buddy Cooper of Columbus; Hugh Davis of Thomasville; Don Adams of Valdosta; Ramon Hernandez of Thomasville; and Jimmy Cason of Statesboro. Laity alternates are Gloria Morgan of Dublin; Matthew Martin of Warner Robins; and Robert Anderson of Columbus. Clergy alternates are Marcia Cochran of Waycross; Beverly Flowers of Savannah; and Ronnie Wills of Cordele.

In other actions, conference members:

  • Collected a special offering of $65,570 for the East Africa Initiative. Offerings also were collected for the Fund for Special Relief ($2,582.16) and the Ministerial Education Fund ($2,871.33);
  • Adopted a conference and district Safe Sanctuary policy;
  • Approved recommendations by the District Study Task Force, including shifting the funding for districts to permit drawing new district lines;
  • Approved a motion to empower the bishop and cabinet to form a committee to engage in dialogue with the North Georgia Annual Conference to study conference lines;
  • Voted to move the conference pastoral counselor to a full-time position;
  • Heard powerful messages from Bishop Lindsey Davis in the ordination service, the Rev. Don Kea in the memorial service and the Rev. Hugo Magallanes in morning Bible studies;
  • Affirmed the ministry of New and Revitalized Congregational Development within the bounds of the South Georgia Conference;
  • Were led in an evening worship service by the Mitchell County and Tallahassee boys' choirs;
  • Approved a policy to bring the way clergy expenses are paid into compliance with IRS standards;
  • Recognized Dr. Sandi Hortman, the first deaconess consecrated from the South Georgia Conference in the last 44 years;
  • Approved three resolutions, one calling for inclusiveness in the selection of general and jurisdictional delegates; one reopening discussion on parsonages; and one opposing the expansion of alcohol use and abuse;
  • Approved a motion that the Council on Finance and Administration study the apportionment formula;
  • Received $10,254.67 from the United Methodist Publishing House and voted to give this money for clergy pensions in the central conferences for the fifth year in a row;
  • Approved a budget of $11,505,287.

Ten people were commissioned, and eight were ordained as full elders. Sixteen pastors retired, and seven were recognized for their 50th anniversary in ministry.

Membership stands at 136,805, down 1,017 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 52,958, down 75. Church school attendance stands at 27,802, down 1,107.

-Kelly Roberson