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2008 South Georgia Annual Conference

June 8-11, 2008, Columbus, Ga.

Meeting under the theme "Glorifying GodBearing Fruit," South Georgia United Methodists gathered for the 2008 Annual Conference at the Columbus Center in Columbus, Ga.

"This theme brings focus to what we seek to do as we live into God's vision for this annual conference," said Bishop B. Michael Watson, resident bishop of the South Georgia Area. "Glorifying God is our primary motive as we seek to be faithful, fruitful and bold."

One of the most exciting examples of spiritual fruit was celebrated through the presence of a delegation from the East Africa Annual Conference, including the 23-member Hope for Africa Children's Choir.

Bishop Daniel Wandabula led this group on a U.S. tour spearheaded by an invitation from the South Georgia conference. The choir participated several times during annual conference, including a special concert on June 10. Ranging in age from 5 to 12, the children incorporated upbeat music, drama, dance and personal testimonies to present a well-rounded picture of how God has redeemed their lives.

Members also welcomed Bishop James R. King Jr., episcopal leader of the Louisville (Ky.) Area, as he preached the opening worship service and the ordination service. In his opening worship message "Flow," King challenged South Georgia United Methodists to "go, flow and grow a transformed world."

In keeping with the theme "Glorifying GodBearing Fruit," conference members scattered across the community June 10 to be witnesses of faith in Jesus Christ. More than 525 people participated in 37 service projects during the conference's third annual "day of service." The day offered a specific way for members to glorify God by bearing fruit by engaging in various service projects that meaningfully served their neighbors.

In other actions, members:

  • Were led by Bishop Watson in three teaching times on the "three simple rules" of Methodism;
  • Took a special offering for United Methodist Higher Education and Campus Ministries in the amount of $28,358 and a love offering for Humble United Methodist School for $14,336;
  • Heard messages from Bishop James King and Bill Hurdle in the memorial service and the Rev. Melissa Traver in the June 11 morning devotional;
  • Affirmed the ministries of South Georgia conference agencies through 14 video vision moments;
  • Heard a report from the 2008 delegation to General Conference;
  • Received $10,085 from the United Methodist Publishing House and voted to give this money for clergy pensions in the central conferences for the sixth year in a row;
  • Approved a policy outlining a procedure for when a clergyperson goes through a divorce;
  • Approved a recommendation regarding a proposed progression for clergy families to provide their own furnishings for the parsonage;
  • Approved a budget of $11,988,973 for mission and ministry for the next year; and
  • Celebrated the fruitful ministry of Bishop Watson and his wife, Margaret, during their eight years in South Georgia.

Sixteen people were commissioned, one person was ordained as a probationary member/deacon and eight were ordained as full elders. Twenty pastors retired, and five were recognized for achieving their 50th anniversary in ministry. Thirty-one clergy and clergy spouses who died in the past year were remembered during a service of commemoration.

Membership stands at 135,880, down 925 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 52,765, down 193. Church school attendance stands at 27,435, down 367.

Kelly Roberson