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2008 South Carolina Annual Conference

June 1-4, 2008, Florence, S.C.

Amid worship and service, delegates to the 2008 South Carolina Annual Conference "dared to change the world" as they dealt with the business of The United Methodist Church.

Following a report of the state's 2008 General Conference delegation, Carolyn Briscoe joyfully announced the delegation's endorsement of the Rev. W. Timothy McClendon as the episcopal nominee. Delegates approved the endorsement by giving McClendon a standing ovation.

The African-American Task Force, a subcommittee of the Ethnic Local Church Concerns Committee, conducted eight listening sessions throughout the spring. As a result, it recommended to Connectional Ministries that "a congregational specialist for the African-American church be made a full-time position without additional district responsibilities." That recommendation was adopted by the conference and the budget was duly amended.

Similarly, the Committee on Hispanic/Latino Ministries is in conversation with the Ministry Advisory Team about making the congregational specialist for Hispanic ministries a full-time position. The team chose not to bring a recommendation at this time, said the Rev. Willie Teague.

During the June 2 ordination service, 23 local pastors were licensed, 15 deacons and elders were commissioned as probationary members, and 18 deacons and elders were ordained as full members.

Thirty-five retired ministers, spouses and surviving spouses were remembered during a memorial service, and 31 pastors were recognized and thanked for their years of service during a retirement service.

The body adopted three out of four resolutions: one to study the relationship between the conference and Epworth Children's Home; one encouraging divestiture from the government of Sudan; and one affirming a new program established at Spartanburg Methodist College benefiting students from the Corridor of Shame. The fourth resolution, which asked for historical accuracy in future resolutions, was defeated.

The conference approved a budget of $17.5 million, an increase of 3.2 percent over 2008, along with a motion to give $100,000 from the Permanent Reserve Fund to Epworth for the continuation of the home's Early Intervention Center.

Offerings taken throughout the conference totaled more than $46,450 and will benefit the United Methodist Committee on Relief Response on Kenya, Bethlehem Bible College in Israel and the South Carolina United Methodist Volunteers in Mission. A special offering was taken in honor of June Willson, who is retiring after many years as a congregational specialist and associate director working with youth and young adults. That offering will go toward helping an African student living and studying in America that Willson and her husband have been working with for several years.

In addition to helping those outside U.S. borders, more than 1,000 delegates clad in bright red T-shirts spent the afternoon of June 3 in service in Florence and the surrounding communities. Service activities included packing boxes for troops, repairing homes, walking in prayer and visiting the sick and homebound.

Five churches were recognized as bicentennial churches, and eight were recognized as centennial churches. The conference bid a somber goodbye to five churches that were discontinued.

Membership stands at 239,750, down 1,445 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 97,715, down 244. Church school attendance stands at 44,617, down 1,956.

Allison K. Trussell