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2008 Central Pennsylvania Annual Conference

June 5-7, 2008, Grantham, Pa.

"We have to work hard and we have to work fast, and we have to make every minute count," said Bishop Jane Allen Middleton to 1,100 United Methodists at the beginning of the annual meeting of the Central Pennsylvania Annual Conference at Messiah College.

In opening remarks to the conference, Middleton focused on making disciples in a rapidly changing world.

"One of our problems in the church is that we know how fast the world is changing everywhere else, so our temptation is to keep the church exactly like it is, so it's the last place in our life we can count on not to change," Middleton said.

"Jesus didn't come so we can be buried from this building," she added. "He said, 'I have come so you may have life, abundant life.' Jesus has come; we can proclaim that truth, whatever the cost. We must be witnesses."

Middleton said that witness in a changing world requires visionary leaders who are guided by the principles: Do no harm. Do good. Stay in love with God.

"We have this treasure, this wonderful treasure, the church of Jesus Christ," Middleton said, "and I'm staking my life on the promise that we will return to our roots in Jesus Christ and that we will live."

In its legislative sessions the annual conference moved to:

  • Approve, unanimously, a resolution calling for joining the Pennsylvania churches of the Wyoming Conference with the Central Pennsylvania Conference.
  • Tithe 20 percent of the interest earnings from the deposit accounts of the conference board of pensions to the pensions of the Central Conferences.
  • Transition from a self-funded health care coverage to HealthFlex, a fully-insured program offered through the United Methodist Board of Pension and Health Benefits.
  • Support legislation ensuring standard review and reporting protocols of child fatalities.
  • Encourage education on the prevention of child abuse.
  • Increase minimum clergy salaries by 3 percent in 2009.
  • Require ongoing training in sexual ethics for all clergy and lay pastors.

Conference treasurer Zedna Haverstock reported that the Central Pennsylvania Annual Conference paid 100 percent of its apportionments for 2007. This represents 12 years of uninterrupted commitment to the connection and paying the general church apportionments in full.

Haverstock was also honored for her 35 years of service as conference treasurer/comptroller. Haverstock, who will formally retire Aug. 31, has been named the conference's interim employee benefits manager.

Gary A. Smith was named the treasurer/comptroller of the conference.

The conference did not approve a resolution submitted to its board of church and society calling for all congregations within a 10-mile radius to merge into one congregation.

An $11.4 million plan for funding ministry was approved for 2009, and conference members were asked to join in a "Miracle Month" fundraising effort aimed at retiring the debt on Mission Central.

The conference also approved the sale of Bethlehem Farm and directed funds from the sale to improving conference-owned camps, its Camp Endowment Fund, and ministry to children in the city of York.

Special offerings received at the conference totaled more than $76,000, including $23,623 for the Cup of Water Fund, $18,709 for Mission Central, $21,803 for Global AIDS, $4,693 for Nothing But Nets, $5,254 for the Cartwright Scholarship and $2,697 for the Youth Service Fund.

Bishop Middleton ordained eight elders, including two associate members. Nineteen pastors retired. One candidate was commissioned as a probationary deacon and nine as probationary elders.

Membership stands at 141,030, down 2,821 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 64,703, down 3,280. Church school attendance stands at 26,675, down 1,797.

The Rev. Skip Spangler and Jerry Wolgemuth