2008 Detroit Annual Conference
May 16-20, Adrain, Mich.
The Detroit Annual Conference met in its 40th annual session under the theme "Breaking into the Future."
Conference members pledged $2 million to the Central Conference Pension Initiative. The funds were available because the conference was able to access surplus funds from its pre-1982 pension funding. The pre-1982 funds will total approximately $10 million, and the Conference Board of Pensions and Health Benefits proposed the conference pledge a tithe to the Central Conference Pension Initiative. An amendment from the floor raised the pledged amount to $2 million.
The Detroit Conference has a covenant relationship with the Liberia Annual Conference and has seen firsthand the critical need for pension support for central conference pastors. The 2004 General Conference established the Central Conference Pension Initiative in 2004.
The conference's primary focus was on celebrating 40 years of ministry and mission. The 1968 merger of the Methodist and Evangelical United Brethren churches saw the creation of new regional conferences. Conference staffers reported on significant events and issues by decade, and a DVD presentation added faces and places to the historical recounting.
The conference celebrated paying its general church apportionments at 100 percent for the seventh year in a row. The conference treasurer reported that conference churches and members donated nearly $1 million in designated giving through The Advance in 2007.
Conference churches donated more than $52,000 for their covenant churches in Liberia and Haiti; churches also filled two containersone 40-foot and one 20-footwith school and layette kits and other supplies for their partner churches. Other donated funds purchased 48 medicine boxes through UMCOR. Each box cares for 3,000 people. A spontaneous offering for the Nothing But Nets campaign collected more than $7,000. A conference noted for its mission giving, members also collected more than 13,000 pairs of "seat covers"new underwearfor children and youth being served by churches and community agencies.
The conference included two teaching sessions: one on "Growing Your Church Where You Are" and a second on "Waiting on the World to Change."
In place of the usual round of resolutions on social justice issues, conference boards and agencies provided a document for members to use in local church discussions. Among the items: a listing of seven legislative priorities from the Conference Board of Church and Society; advocacy for changes in the U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy; divestment from companies "profiting from or contributing to" Israel's occupation of Palestinian land. The board also referred members and churches to a publication of the American Friends Service Committee, "Questions to Ask the Candidates in the 2008 Elections."
The conference voted to require re-certification every three years for those trained in its policy for protection of children, youth and vulnerable persons.
Retired Bishop Woodie White preached at the Service of Ordination and Commissioning. Bishop Jonathan D. Keaton ordained nine elders and commissioned five probationary members.
Membership stands at 98,968, down 473 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 45,576. Church school attendance stands at 26,985.