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2007 Wyoming Annual Conference

May 31-June 2, 2007, Scranton, Pa.

The Wyoming Annual Conference gathered at the University of Scranton in Scranton, Pa., under the theme "Wonder, Love and Praise: Stewards on the Journey." Dan Dick of the United Methodist Board of Discipleship led Bible study sessions showing how God has gifted us for service and that, as faithful stewards, we must share our gifts with others.

Examples of people living out that call were seen in a number of ministry awards presented during the session. Denman Evangelism Awards were given to the Rev. Jane Pykus, pastor of Worcester United Methodist Church, and Sharon White, a member of Greene United Methodist Church. The Jefferson Urban Ministry Award was presented to the Rev. Keith Benjamin and the congregation of First United Methodist Church, Wilkes-Barre. The Guy Leinthall Award for Social Justice Ministry was presented to Bill Beebe in recognition of his work in disaster recovery in Mississippi and in the conference.

The Dismantling White Privilege Team led a service of Repentance and Reconciliation in which "we acknowledged the history of our denomination that led to separation and splintering, as well as the treatment we have often visited upon pastors of color who have been assigned to serve our churches, and to people of color who have joined our congregations. We confessed and repented of our sins corporately and personally. Members of the African-American community, both from within our connection and from the African Methodist Episcopal Church, were on hand to receive our statements of repentance."

The Lao Taskforce and the Rev. Chay Oudomkhati of the Lao United Methodist Church in Johnson City thanked churches for their support. The Lao church is the largest Laotian congregation in the United States.

Critical issues were selected for the next quadrennium: 1) Empowering all people to become involved and committed disciples by discovering and utilizing their gifts to meet the needs of others; and 2) Stepping out and welcoming people of all ages, especially families with young children.

The conference honored nine retiring pastors; commissioned four in preparation for elder's orders; ordained one deacon and three elders; and recognized two local pastors who have completed the Course of Study and 11 who have completed licensing school. Two staff members who are retiring and a long-time volunteer were also recognized.

Bishop Susan W. Hassinger was joined by retired Bishop Felton E. May in greeting and presenting gifts to youth confirmed in churches across the conference.

Resolutions and one petition to General Conference were approved to:

  • Call on every church to establish a Safe Sanctuaries task force and to develop and implement procedures for establishing Safe Sanctuaries;
  • Set minimum standards for policies and procedures that local churches must meet regarding Safe Sanctuaries;
  • Encourage that all appliances and light bulbs in parsonages, churches and conference-owned buildings be replaced with energy-efficient appliances and bulbs that use the lowest practical amount of energy;
  • Provide training for youth on conscientious objection to military service;
  • Encourage the conference, churches and members to support the Social Justice Endowment Fund through prayers and gifts in memory of the Rev. Bill Reid, a lover of peace and justice;
  • Support the denomination's Global AIDS Fund;
  • Call for the distribution of resources about non-violent conflict resolution and ways of limiting or eliminating violence in human conflict;
  • Prevent discrimination in receiving members into United Methodist congregations. The petition deals with ¶214 and ¶225 of the Book of Discipline concerning eligibility for church membership. It is a response to Judicial Council Decision 1032. In the first paragraph, the word "may" would be replaced with "shall be welcomed to," and in the second with "is eligible to."

Lay delegates elected to General Conference: Raymond Hamill (delegation chair), Honesdale, Pa., and Blenda Smith, Whitney Point, N.Y. Clergy delegates: David Masland, Binghamton, N.Y., and Beth Jones, Kingston, Pa.

Lay delegates elected to the Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference: Eric Yetter, New Milford, Pa., and Joyce Miller, Oneonta, N.Y. Clergy delegates: Mike Bealla, Trucksville, Pa., and Jan Marsi, Vestal, N.Y. Lay alternates: Ken Summers, Warren Heil, and Hudda Aswad. Clergy alternates: Bette Poe, Greg Myers and Beckie Sweet.

Membership stands at 62,913, down 770 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 16,409, down 5. Church school attendance stands at 5187, down 271.

Don Perry