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2007 Southwest Texas Annual Conference

June 6-9, 2007, Corpus Christi, Texas

Leaders of the Southwest Texas Annual Conference took three steps toward accomplishing their vision of "offering Christ to all" by:

  • Kicking off a $5 million capital fundraising campaign to finance new churches;
  • Adopting four initiatives to guide the transformation of existing congregations;
  • Adding $150,000 to the 2008 annual conference budget for a yearlong regional advertising campaign.

The actions were taken between ballots for electing delegates to the General and Jurisdictional conferences.

Laity delegates to the 2008 General Conference are: Jay Brim of Austin (delegation head); Carol Loeb of Corpus Christi; Beverly Silas of Austin; Byrd Bonner of San Antonio; Tara Thronson of Austin; and Mark Nerio of San Antonio.

Clergy delegates to General Conference are: Kim Cape of Austin; Barbara Ruth of Corpus Christi; J. Michael Lowry of San Antonio; Terrence Hayes of Victoria; Carl Rohlfs of Austin; and Virgilio Vazquez-Garza of San Antonio.

Laity delegates to the South Central Jurisdictional Conference are: Charles Akins of Austin; Rick Mantooth of San Angelo; Bill Ault of San Antonio; Nellie Gonzalez of Lyford; Teresa Kesse of Brady; and Walt Lengle of Austin. Reserve delegates are: Don Hand of San Antonio; Saul Pacheco of McAllen; Sue Sidney of Cedar Park; and Dick Gilby of San Antonio. Lengle, 18, is the youngest delegate elected in recent memory.

Clergy delegates to the South Central Jurisdictional Conference are: Teresa Welborn of Buda; Austin Frederick of San Antonio; Eradio Valverde of San Marcos; Barbara Galloway-Edgar of San Antonio; Donna Strieb of San Antonio; and Larry Howard of Harlingen. Reserve clergy delegates are: Billy Abraham of Dallas; Cynthia Kepler of Austin; Laura Merrill of Wimberley; and David Seilheimer of San Antonio.

The "Offering Christ Today for Tomorrow" capital campaign already has secured more than $2 million in pledges toward its $5 million goal, said J. Michael Lowry, executive director of new church development and transformation.

The fundraising effort is to end next June with a celebration during the 2008 annual conference session. Contributions are to be collected through Dec. 31, 2011.

The Council on Ministries proposed the "4 Partnership Initiatives for Transforming Congregations and Offering Christ to All." They call on the conference's 344 existing congregations to:

  • Become evangelistic in faith sharing;
  • Strengthen their evangelistic presence in the community;
  • Call forth younger people for service in ordained ministry; and
  • Develop disciples and leaders

"These are not a program from on high," council chair Carol Loeb told the 1,354 conference members. "They are for you to take back to your churches and determine how best to do them in your communities."

Jim Calloway, a member of First United Methodist Church, Harlingen, and the New Church Development Commission, proposed adding $150,000 to next year's $9.26 million conference budget for a regional advertising campaign. The goal was to have enough money to qualify for up to $150,000 in matching grant money from the United Methodist Commission on Communication. A yearlong advertising campaign would be a "great tool of evangelism" that would "let us offer Christ to all," Calloway said.

In other actions, the conference:

  • Adopted a resolution from the Board of Church and Society saying that the policies and procedures of the conference and its affiliated congregations "aspire to welcome into membership all confessing Christians without regard to race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, social status or economic condition."
  • Approved a policy from the Commission on Communications authorizing electronic mail as an official mode of conference communication.

Bishop Joel N. Martinez ordained four elders and one deacon in full connection. He commissioned 12 probationary elders and recognized three associate members. Seven elders and one associate member retired.

Membership stands at 119,781, up 104 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 50,072, down 130. Church school attendance stands at 20,615, down 452.

-Douglas Cannon