2008 North Carolina Annual Conference
June 11-14, 2008, Greenville, N.C.
The North Carolina Annual Conference continued the spirit of General Conference and holy conferencing by listening to differing opinions, supporting the collaborative work of the conference connectional table and the conference council on finance and administration, supporting a conference structure modification, supporting a motion to move the conference headquarters, and observing times of worship and celebration throughout the conference.
The conference theme was "A Witnessing in the Light of God."
In one of its first actions, the conference approved a modification of its structure by changing the five circles of ministry to four teams (outreach ministry, leadership, Christian formation and stewardship). A goal for each team is to provide additional leadership to local churches. The conference connectional table remains the center for visioning, mission interpretation, budgeting and accountability. Communications surrounds the new structure and has representation on each team and the connectional table for news sharing and interpretation.
Affirming the process of collaborative visioning and funding support between the conference connectional table and the council on finance and administration, the conference approved the proposed $20.1 million budget. For the second year in a row, conference members rejected requests for funds that had not been approved in the connectional table budgeting process based on guidelines from the council on finance and administration.
The conference adopted a health insurance proposal to keep the same coverage and premiums, for the fourth year in a row, while raising the life-time maximum from $2 million to $5 million and increasing mental health benefits. For 2009, the minimum salary approved for pastors under full-time appointments will be $40,319. Utilities were set at $2,200, and $4,000 was the recommended travel reimbursement allowance.
Conference trustees were granted permission to sell the current conference headquarters building and land in Raleigh, N.C. The proceeds are to be used for building a new conference office building on land previously purchased at the intersection of two major highways east of Garner and near Raleigh.
Resolutions adopted during the conference called for humane mental health reform in North Carolina, support of anti-discrimination and anti-bullying policies in educational institutions, stopping Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids and detention, opposition to intolerance and racism on North Carolina radio stations, and fair treatment and support of undocumented young people continuing education through the state college system.
Two resolutions were defeated. One called for holding U.S. civilian political leaders responsible for the war in Iraq while fully supporting military personnel, and the other recommended changes by a nonpartisan commission in national health care insurance coverage for all Americans.
Resident Bishop Al Gwinn, in addition to presiding during the conference, delivered the state of the church address and the sermon during the ordination service. Marcia McFee served as the leader for music and worship; Ben Witherington, one of the top evangelical scholars in the world, led the Bible study; and Leonard Sweet, teacher, author and national religious leader, was the guest speaker for the lay leadership event.
Included in other celebrations and action taken by the conference:
- Unanimous endorsement was given to the Rev. Paul Leeland as the North Carolina Conference nominee for the episcopacy.
- Re-elected to four-year terms were Emily Innes, lay leader; Christine Dodson, treasurer; the Rev. James L. Bryan, secretary; and the Rev. George Speake, statistician.
- Conference members recognized 110 congregations as Acts 2 Churches demonstrating the qualities of radical hospitality, passionate worship, spiritual formation, and risk-taking ministry to the world.
- The conference held an evening of celebration for the 60 years of the Advance for Christ and His Church, the denomination's second-mile giving program.
- One person was commissioned to probationary membership as a deacon, 17 were commissioned as probationary elders, one person was ordained a deacon in full connection, six were ordained elders in full connection, three clergy transferred into the conference, and 35 people, for the first time, received a license for pastoral ministry.
- The conference recognized 18 retiring pastors and remembered 12 pastors and 14 spouses during a memorial service.
Membership stands at 237,159, up 595 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 84,391, down 1,704. Sunday school attendance stands at 39,169, down 1,028.