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2007 Troy Annual Conference

May 2-5, Burlington, Vt.

Clergy and lay members of Troy Annual Conference met under the theme "Our Journey Continues," a development on the 2006 Annual Conference Session, 'Take Nothing for the Journey."

The Conference opened with a Communion and Memorial Worship Service. Bishop Thomas Ely of the Diocese of Vermont of The Episcopal Church joined Bishop Susan W. Hassinger of the Albany Episcopal Area of The United Methodist Church in celebrating the Eucharist.

As the business of the conference opened on May 2, Bishop Hassinger proposed that the discussions during annual conference follow the guidelines of R-E-S-P-E-C-T, laid out by the Rev. Eric Law, who specializes in multicultural communication. After some discussion and additions, including the request to silence cell phones and paging devices, the body agreed to hold one another mutually accountable to those guidelines.

The Rev. Henry Frueh, chair of the conference boundaries team presented the report of the boundaries committee. The Troy Conference is currently in conversations with the New England, North Central New York, Western New York and Wyoming annual conferences about conference boundaries.

Recent discernment sessions held in Vermont revealed a growing interest in investigating all or part of Vermont merging into the New England Conference. Leaders of both conferences will met May 25 in Lebanon, N.H. Conference members approved legislation authorizing a special session of the Troy conference on Oct. 6 at Green Mountain College in Poultney, Vt., for the purpose of receiving and acting upon a recommendation that, if approved, will be submitted to the July 13-18, 2008 Northeast Jurisdictional Conference in Harrisburg, Pa.

After years of preparation, the conference held a Service of Repentance on the evening of May 3. Guests included the Rev. Ruby J. Smith, presiding elder of the Albany District of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ) Church, Western New York Conference; The Rev. James McCathan, Duryee Memorial AMEZ Church, Schenectady, N.Y.; and The Rev. Robert Linder, Fifth Avenue AMEZ Church, Troy, N.Y.

A Service of Reconciliation was held May 4 and African-Americans and other people of color who stayed in The United Methodist Church after the Central Conference was created in 1939, were publicly thanked. The Rev. Janice Palm, Embury District Superintendent, read the names of those members who remained the church, including Shirley Readdean, Albany District Lay Leader, Mildred Mason, chairwoman of the Conference Commission on Religion and Race, the Rev. Marion Moore-Colgan, a Native American serving in Plattsburgh, N.Y.; and the Rev. Byung Woo Cho of the Korean United Methodist Church of Schenectady, N.Y.

Conference members elected 12 people to serve as delegates and reserve delegates to the General and Jurisdictional conferences. The Rev. Henry Frueh, Adirondack District Superintendent, will serve as the delegation chairman. The Rev. Michelle Bogue-Trost completes the clergy team for General Conference. Conference Lay Leader Ilah Sisson Walser and 18-year-old Emily DeSalvatore are the lay delegates to General Conference.

The delegates to jurisdictional conference are the Rev. Jan Rowell, the Rev. Steve Clunn, Readdean and Mason. Reserve delegates are Nate Trost, chair of the Conference Board of Global Ministries, Evie Doyon, Green Mountain Lay Leader, the Rev. John Marshall and the Rev. Marion Moore-Colgan.

On May 4, members participated in a Circle Discussion Process around the issues of theological diversity and human sexuality, particularly around five resolutions submitted at the 2005 annual conference session, addressing The United Methodist Church's positions on homosexuality. Small group table conversations took the place of floor debate, and some participants reflected that, while challenging, the process allowed for deeper understanding than would the divisiveness of debate. Following the Circle Process, all five resolutions were passed to be sent to the 2008 General Conference.

Ten individuals were honored at the ceremony for recognition of retirees, as the body gave thanks for the many years of service given by Don Washburn, Bill Barney, Henry Cheney, David Hunter, David Murphy, Phyllis Holzhauer, Tresita Beach, Marty Connor, Joyce Bruce, and Charlie Magill. Edie Poland was commissioned as a probationary member, and the retiring clergy passed candles to her, symbolizing the passing of the torch to one entering the next stage of the ordained ministry.

The conference budget for 2008 was amended to change the new position of conference administrative assistant from part-time to full-time with benefits. With this addition, a $2.8 million budget was passed for 2008. The total includes $2 million for conference administration, including connectional expenses paid to the Jurisdiction, General Conference and Episcopal Fund, and Ministerial Benefits, and $808,074 for the Program, Mission and Benevolence Budget.

In other business, conference members:

  • Approved a petition urging conference churches to contribute to the Amish Ark Project to raise money for five Heifer International arks in honor of the five Amish school children killed in Lancaster County, Pa. in early 2006.
  • Called for the expansion of the List of Bishops to include all bishops ordained or consecrated by The United Methodist Church or predecessor churches be printed in The Book of Discipline.
  • Called for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
  • Voted to support a petition to the 2008 General Conference to include Bermuda in the Northeast Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church.
  • Called on General Conference to send formal letters of protest to the President and Congress of the United States, urging the government to expeditiously bring all Guantanamo detainees to trial or release them without further delay, and that Congress be urged to rescind the Military Commissions Act of 2006, restoring the Writ of Habeus Corpus to any and all detainees.
  • Urged legislation that stands for equality and justice and offers same gender families the same civil protections that other families enjoy; and that United Methodist clergy be permitted to bless whatever marriage arrangements are legal in their states.
  • Supported funding of Stem Cell Research.
  • Voted to oppose to the restoration of the Death Penalty in New York State.
  • Joined More the Dignity for All Students Coalition, N.Y
  • Approved the union of a United Methodist church and Presbyterian church into Cornerstone Community Church of Lansingburgh, N.Y.
  • Approved the creation of an official United Methodist historic site marking the first Methodist class in the Vermont at Bernard.
  • Approved legislation calling for cultural sensitivity training for all Volunteer in Missions participants.
  • Approved consent calendar petitions on the Global AIDS Fund; Children's Sabbath; Religion and Race representative to serve on Sessions Team; Closing Jurisdictional Field Offices; and creating an official United Methodist historic site marking the first Methodist class in the State of Vermont in Bernard

In additional business, the conference board of global ministries presented the Rev. Bob Long, retired elder, with the annual award for mission participation within and beyond Troy Annual Conference. The West Danville United Methodist Church in Vermont received the Small Membership Church award, and the Camping and Ministries Team recognized the volunteer work of the Rev. David Smith at Skye Farm Camp in New York and Covenant Hills in Vermont.

--Sandra Brands