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2007 West Virginia Annual Conference

June 7-10, 2007, Buckhannon, W.Va.

The 39th session of the West Virginia Annual Conference met on the campus of West Virginia Wesleyan College. In recognition of the reality of the pain of conflict in the world, the conference floor was extended symbolically to include Chaplain Bruce Reed, who was on his way to Iraq with a West Virginia National Guard unit.

The conference theme was "Stewardship of Holy Living," and conference members discussed plans for making evangelism the major priority for the 2008-2012 quadrennium. The Evangelism Task Force reported collecting 5,543 names of non-church members to be prayed for by churches throughout the conference.

Conference Bishop Ernest S. Lyght urged churches to spread the love of Christ so that their communities would "have something to talk about." The bishop's cabinet urged churches to be creative in reaching their communities for Christ.

The Evangelism Task Force honored Bill Deel of Milton, W.Va., and Calvin McCutcheon of Buckhannon, W.Va., with the Denman Evangelism Award.

Dr. Ken Ramsey, coordinator of the Nothing But Nets anti-malaria campaign, announced a goal of $100,000. He said the money would buy 10,000 insecticide-treated mosquito nets and save thousands of lives in Africa.

Resolutions approved include:

  • Urging the defeat of local referendums that would allow table gambling in certain counties;

  • Calling for comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S. that would include reducing the obstacles for "all who want to settle here";

  • Asking the United Methodist Commission on Archives and History to designate the Mother's Day Shrine at Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, W.Va., as a United Methodist Historic Site.

The conference defeated a resolution urging churches to study the Israel-Palestine conflict and to pray for peace in that region. Opponents said the measure was too critical of Israel.

Conference members endorsed a petition encouraging churches to establish media resource libraries

The conference did not approve two petitions that would have made pastors responsible for determining who was fit to be a member of the church. It narrowly declined to endorse a petition that would have changed the disciplinary language on abortion and another that would have required general agencies to withdraw from the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.

United Methodist Women's President Diane Braun reported that the conference women ranked fourth in the Northeastern Jurisdiction in giving to missions.

In other business, the conference approved a $11.75 million budget for 2008, a 2.25 percent decrease, and forwarded a donation of $13,775 from the United Methodist Publishing House for pastors' pensions to the Central Conference Pastors' Pension Fund.

The conference heard that new campus ministry relationships were being formed with Potomac State University, the University of Charleston and Concord College.

James Salley, assistant vice chancellor for institutional advancement at Africa University, was welcomed as guest preacher, and Fred Kellerman, conference lay leader, promoted evangelism in his address. "Your faith story may be the best single story you will ever tell," he said.

Judy Nutter, chairwoman of the conference Board of Global Ministries, announced that Heart and Hand House, Philippi, had received West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin's Volunteer Organization Service Award.

Lay delegates elected to the 2008 General Conference are: Jim Berner of Charleston; Fred Kellerman of Lewisburg; Zachary Allen of Parkersburg; Judi Kenaston of Lewisburg; and Bill Deel of Milton.

Clergy delegates elected to the 2008 General Conference are: Ellis Conley of Elkins; Clifford Schell of Buckhannon; Monty Brown of Charleston; Mary Ellen Finegan of Fairmont; and Helen Davis Bell of Parkersburg.

Lay delegates elected to the Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference are: Betty Wigal of Parkersburg; Judy Nutter of St. Marys; Diane Kenaston of Lewisburg; Royce Lyden of Fairmont; and Gail Losch of Nettie. Alternates are Bill Hairston of Charleston and Gayle Lesure of Clarksburg.

Clergy delegates elected to Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference are: J. F. Lacaria of Charleston; Helen Oates of Beckley; David Jasper of Fairmont; Michael Waide of Fairmont; and Mark Conner of Huntington. Alternates are: Jennifer Williams of Lumberport and Chuck Pullins of Charleston.

Bishop Lyght ordained eight elders and two deacons, one of which is in associate membership. Twenty-one pastors retired.

Membership stands at 104,805, down 537 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 51,559, down 253. Church school attendance stands at 27,815, down 1,712.

- Tom Burger