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2007 Wisconsin Annual Conference

June 10-13, 2007, Madison, Wis.

The Wisconsin Annual Conference met in Madison with Bishop Linda Lee presiding. Bishop Don Ott (retired) preached the ordination service.

With the theme "Wholeness to Holiness: Reaching for Higher Ground," clergy and lay members heard speakers address better health practices: Dr. Josephine Whitely-Fields, United Theological Seminary, Dayton, Ohio, on spiritual health; Dr. G. Scott Morris, Church Health Center, Memphis, Tenn., on physical health; and Judy Lyons, a family therapist in Madison, on emotional health. Conference members were given the opportunity to participate in identifying health risks by having an on-site Procheck Health Screening, a blood draw that provides a comprehensive panel of tests.

Each plenary session opened with statements from conference deacons as well as the only active diaconal minister, who shared stories of their call to Word and Service, marking the 10th anniversary of the ordination of deacons in full connection and the 30th anniversary of diaconal ministry.

The conference approved new items that:

  • Asked each congregation and/or circuit in the Wisconsin Conference to recognize and celebrate the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s legacy of love in sermon, song fest, forums, and community gatherings;
  • Established a task force to study the financial needs of current seminary and course-of-study students to discern the impact of the educational debt load;
  • Affirmed the continuation of the National Plan for Hispanic Ministry for 2009-2012;
  • Restructured the Conference Council on Youth Ministries;
  • Advocated for establishing a Department of Peace and Nonviolence; and
  • Called for a 2008 report-back study to determine if the current number of district superintendents is adequate.

The annual in-gathering again filled a semi-trailer for the Midwest Mission Distribution Center, including 4,214 baby/youth blankets, quilts and shawls. Total value of all the items, kits and tools collected reached nearly $63,000.

Wisconsin United Methodists, for the 18th year in a row, were recognized for paying 100 percent of their General Church apportionments at a rate of 1/12 per month. As in years past, a check from the United Methodist Publishing House was forwarded to the Central Conference Pension Initiative Fund. The 2008 conference budget was set at $7.1 million.

Clergy delegates elected to the 2008 General Conference are: Jorge Mayorga Solis of Waukesha (delegation chair); Susanne Burwell of Monona; Samuel J. Royappa of Sun Prairie; Stephen J. Polster of Madison; and Mary Council-Austin of Fond du Lac.

Lay delegates elected to General Conference are: Lisa King of Fall River; Billie LaBumbard of Spooner; Becky Foster of Greenville; Justin Lowe of Wausau; and Rick Kindschi of Appleton.

Clergy delegates elected to the North Central Jurisdictional Conference are:
Wesley J. White of Mequon; Amanda M.D. Stein of Madison; Steven E. Zekoff of Lake Mills; Amy E. DeLong of Osceola; and Francis R. Deaner of Madison.

Lay delegates elected to the North Central Jurisdiction are: Diane Schobert of Marshall; Diane Odeen of River Falls; Mike Mueller of Rewey; Dorthy Radley of Slinger; and Roger Kindschi of Forest Junction.

The conference voted to forward 16 of 34 submitted petitions to General Conference. Five people were ordained elder; one was commissioned as probationary deacon; four were commissioned probationary elder; one was elected associate member; 11 newly licensed local pastors were recognized; two local pastors and 19 elders transitioned into retirement. One congregation was discontinued. A review of active clergy ages shows a potential for 55 clergy (15 percent) retirements in 2008.

Preliminary counts show membership stands at 90,255, down 3,481 from the previous year. Average worship attendance is 41,285, down 1,585. Church school attendance stands at 13,468, a decrease of 617.

-Jane Follmer Zekoff