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2007 Western North Carolina Annual Conference

June 7-10, Lake Junaluska, N.C.

The Western North Carolina Annual Conference met under the theme "Follow Jesus, Make Disciples, Transform the World," which was highlighted in reports of the life and ministry of the conference.

The annual conference voted to suspend rules dealing with petitions by eliminating forum groups or legislative committees allowing each petition to be considered by the entire annual conference. The conference adopted a $28.4 million budget for 2008, a 3.9 percent increase over 2007.

The conference voted for:

  • Clergy to begin furnishing the den/family room, master bedroom and two other bedrooms in their parsonages;
  • The bishop to appoint a study group on sustainability;
  • A petition calling for the United Methodist Board of Church and Society to honor the guidelines and purpose of restricted funds for work on temperance and alcohol-related problems;
  • A petition calling for protecting children from mercury-containing drugs; and
  • A petition designating the sixth Sunday after Easter as Rural Life Sunday.

The conference approved petitions to General Conference which call for changing the name of the committee on lay leadership to nominations and leadership development; detailing the work of a coordinator of witness ministries in the local church; amending 341.6 of the United Methodist Book of Discipline prohibiting pastors from participating in ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions; and continuing the ongoing dialogue on the relationship of science and technology. The conference voted objection to consider other petitions related to retaining current language on homosexuality and therefore, did not act upon them.

In a historic move, the conference amended rules providing for a conference secretary-designate in anticipation of the current secretary's retirement in 2008, electing the Rev. Kimberly Ingram for that position.

Bishop J. Lawrence McCleskey presented an interim report from the Task Force on Conference Reorganization which will continue its work to bring a final report for consideration at a called session of the annual conference in early 2008. The task force recommended moving the conference offices from Memorial Center in Charlotte. The conference also approved the trustee's request to terminate the lease on this facility by July 1, 2008.

Nara Melkonyan, Project AGAPE director from Armenia, updated the annual conference of this partnership with the Armenian Apostolic Church and the North Carolina Conference. Representatives from the Mississippi Conference thanked the conference for financial and volunteer support in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. This year's conference offerings went to the conference's Initiative for Africa University ($24,442) and Project AGAPE ($21,538). The Committee on Congregational Development honored 26 congregations with the Churches of Excellence recognition. Bishop Richard C. Looney, representing the United Methodist Foundation for Evangelism, presented the Harry Denman Award to Katie Fralic (laity) and the Rev. Rob Fuquay (clergy).

For the first time, women out-number men on both clergy and lay delegations to General Conference. Clergy elected are Thomas A. "Andy" Langford III of Concord; Sally Langford of Concord; Arnetta Beverly of Madison; Angela Pleasants of Wingate; Kenneth Carter of Charlotte; Kimberly Ingram of Highlands; Charles D. "Denny" White Jr. of Salisbury; James Howell of Charlotte; Julianne "Jan" Brittain of Greensboro; Nancy Burgin Rankin of Charlotte; Ashley Crowder Stanley of Asheville; Ronald (Alan) Rice Jr. of Wilkesboro; and Patricia A. Lewis of Gastonia.

Laity elected to General Conference are Betty Jo Hardy of Salisbury; John Howard of Winston-Salem; Jack Young of High Point; Jim Windham of Gastonia; Sarah McKinney of North Wilkesboro; Amy Johnson of Tobaccoville; Telia Hand of Charlotte; Kim Daniels of Lexington; Sandy Hieronymus of Charlotte; Sarah Kim of High Point; John Ammons of Winston-Salem; William Greene of Asheville; and Joetta Rinehart of Waynesville.

The clergy delegates elected to the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference are Abraham Kim of Kannapolis; Frank (Duke) Ison of Greensboro; William C. Wyman, Jr. of Charlotte; Mark J. Key of Asheboro; Elizabeth O. Coppedge-Henley of Etowah; Shelly F. Webb of Brevard; Percival (Percy) Reeves of Charlotte; George Thompson of Charlotte; Andy Lambert of Boonville; M. Kenneth Lyon of Matthews; Charles Kyker of Hickory; Earl Wilson, Jr. of Winston-Salem; and David Christy of Canton. Alternates: L. Gregory Jones of Durham; Lillie M. Jones of Charlotte; Joseph Seymour of Davidson; Lowell McNaney of Concord; Katherine Clontz Sherrill of Winston-Salem; Talbot Davis of Charlotte; H. Donnell FitzJeffries of Charlotte; and Amy Coles of Pinnacle.

The lay delegates elected to the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference are: Lynne Gilbert of Greensboro; Jennifer Davis of Gastonia; Jennifer Burton of Thomasville; Tonya Lanier of Lexington; Philip Wingeier-Rayo of Monroe; Mildred Carter of Yadkinville; Lazelle Free of Greensboro; Etta Marcellus of Reidsville; Ann Aldridge of Morganton; Sara Williams of East Bend; Bob Shepherd of Asheville; Daphine Strickland of Jamestown; and Kathy FitzJeffries of Charlotte. Alternates: Neffie Connie Locklear of Greensboro; Katie Fralic of Claremont; Michael Carle of Charlotte; Tom Wilson of Greensboro; Dick Strachan of Kings Mountain; Charlie Taylor of Tobaccoville; Charles Eurey of Lincolnton; and Stephen Noblitt of Asheville.

Bishop McCleskey commissioned 37 probationary members, received two associate members, ordained four deacons (one under 1992 Discipline), ordained 27 elders and recognized one elder in probationary membership.

Membership stands at 293,772, up 683 from 2005. Worship attendance is 127,538, up 1,358.

--Mark Barden