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2008 Iowa Annual Conference

June 5-8, 2008, Ames, Iowa

The Iowa Annual Conference gathered to celebrate "A Future with Hope." Mirroring the General Conference's understanding of God's promise, Bishop Gregory V. Palmer presided over the 165th annual gathering, which was attended by some 1,600 laity and clergy.

In his episcopal address, Bishop Palmer reminded the Iowa Conference that the primary mission for the church is to "make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world." Palmer concluded by saying we must be a robust church, be agile to respond on the mission field and then be able to align the resources to meet the needs and emergent challenges of the world.

Bishop Minerva Carcaño, resident bishop of the Phoenix Area, was the conference's guest preacher. In the memorial service sermon, she invited people to be "carriers of God's faithfulness."

A resolution in response to the Postville, Iowa, raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents was passed overwhelmingly. The resolution states that "undocumented immigrants represent governmental failures in addressing complex national and international dynamics which close legal avenues and force immigrants into the shadows where they are subject to exploitation as well as living without advocacy or voice." The resolution calls upon President Bush, the presidential candidates as well as Congress "to put an immediate stop to the raids and to work for a just and humane comprehensive immigration reform."

James H. Salley, associate vice chancellor for institutional advancement for Africa University, was the preacher for the opening worship. The Iowa Annual Conference celebrated that it gave 116 percent of its Africa University apportionment for 2007. Charles Smith, conference treasurer, shared that Africa University received $181,585 from the Iowa Conference.

Norma Morrison, conference lay leader, encouraged the members of the annual conference to "listen to and hear each other." She cited the newly adopted Four Areas of Focus developing outstanding leaders, starting new churches while renewing existing ones in order to reach new people for Christ, addressing the root causes of poverty, and fighting killer diseases of poverty including malaria and HIV/AIDS. She also lifted up the three simple rules of Wesleyan living do no harm, do good and stay in love with God.

Members attending the 2008 Iowa Annual Conference gave generously to Nothing But Nets. Inspired to double the fund-raising goal set by Bishop Palmer of $100,000 coupled with a district challenge, they joyously gave to save the lives of hundreds of children by providing specially treated bed nets with a total of $210,000.

During the conference, three people were ordained as elders, along with one deacon ordained as elder; two were ordained as deacons, one under the 1992 Discipline; one person's elder's orders were recognized; three associate memberships and permanent licenses for pastoral ministry were given; and 12 were recognized as local pastors/Course of Study graduates.

In other actions:

  • Patti LaGree was elected to serve as secretary for the Iowa Annual Conference, effective in June 2009. LaGree will replace Sue Ney, current secretary since 1998.
  • Cokesbury presented the Iowa Annual Conference with a check for $17,608.10, which was designated toward the Central Conference Pension Initiative.
  • Special offerings collected during the annual conference session totaled $20,000 for the Global AIDS Fund, Hispanic Ministries and Congregational Development.
  • Laity and clergy, including members and volunteers of the annual conference, worked side by side accepting donations of health kits, school kits, flood buckets and more with a value over $20,000 that arrived at the "Fill the Truck," which served as a donation center and work station and will transport donations to the United Methodist Committee on Relief's Sager Brown Depot in Baldwin, La.
  • The Rev. Ted Lyddon Hatten, conference artist, described his worship bulletin cover art and sand sculpture artwork at the General Conference and shared some poetic images of hope for the annual conference session.
  • The conference celebrated the ministry of 19 retirees.
  • The budget for 2009 was approved at 4.27 percent over 2008.

Conference membership stands at 186,464, down 2,310 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 63,651, down 3,225 from the previous year.

-Arthur McClanahan