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2008 East Ohio Annual Conference

June 16-19, 2008, Lakeside, Ohio

Bishop John Hopkins presided over the 39th East Ohio Annual Conference with the theme "Lord, We Come to the Lakeshore."

Using the analogy of throwing a stone into a lake, Hopkins challenged the delegates during his annual episcopal address to make a ripple and transform the world.

"We make a ripple in the name of Jesus Christ, and that ripple expands to touch people in ways we never expect and cannot always see," Hopkins said.

At the end of his address, nearly 1,700 delegates came forward and made commitments to support public education, Nothing But Nets, the Global AIDS Fund, and the Churches, Clinics and Classrooms Mission Initiative, which focuses on new mission work in West Africa, Zimbabwe and Russia.

The conference warmly welcomed guest speakers that included the Rev. Ashley Barker of Real Life Community of Faith, Bishop Bruce Ough of the Ohio West Area and the Rev. Gary Henderson, executive director of the Global Health Initiative of The United Methodist Church. The Rev. Adam Hamilton, pastor of Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kan., was the featured speaker during an education and leadership development day held Wednesday.

East Ohio members celebrated the continued efforts made by all local churches that allowed the conference for the second time in history to pay 100 percent of its General Church Apportionments. The conference received a check for $18,042.95 from the United Methodist Publishing House and voted to contribute the entire amount to the Central Conference Pension Fund. An additional $16,789.95 was divided equally among the Global AIDS Fund, The 3 C's: Churches, Clinics and Classrooms Mission Initiative, and the Bishop's Discretionary Fund.

The East Ohio Conference endorsed the Rev. Julius Trimble as its candidate for the episcopacy. Trimble, former Cleveland District superintendent, is the senior pastor of AldersgateUnitedMethodistChurch in Warrensville Heights, Ohio.

Bishop Hopkins ordained seven elders and one deacon. He commissioned eight probationary elders and one deacon. Thirty-one pastors representing 783 years of faithful service to the church, retired.

In other conference business, members approved resolutions that:

  • Oppose any constitutional amendment that legalizes gambling/gaming and to further education and discussions about the Social Principles statement on gambling;
  • Continue advocacy efforts for education and educational funding reform;
  • Help farmers earn fair prices through the purchase of coffee, tea, chocolate and snacks via the United Methodist Committee on Relief's Coffee Project and Equal Exchange;
  • Encourage recycling at both youth and annual conference, recycling in local churches and a plastic-free week, when all participating churches will avoid the purchase and use of plastics;
  • Encourage churches to include youth representatives in their committees, boards, worship services and events; and
  • Support a cancer awareness event to take place during the 2009 annual conference.

The conference didn't affirm the Council of Bishops' resolution asking for an end to the war in Iraq.

Membership stands at 173,950, down 2,853 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 67,566, down 1,505. The conference reported 22,566 in church school attendance, down 3,740 from the previous year.

-- Kay Panovec