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2008 Troy Annual Conference

June 4-7, 2008, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

After two years of discussions and in response to a grassroots movement coming to the Boundaries Task Force, members of the Troy Annual Conference approved a resolution asking the denomination's Northeastern Jurisdiction to join the Vermont churches of Troy conference with the New England Annual Conference. A similar resolution, asking the jurisdiction merge all or part of the North Central New York, Troy, Western New York and Wyoming annual conferences, was approved by all four conferences at special sessions held simultaneously on Oct. 7, 2007.

Members also approved a resolution that enabled the New Area Conference Team (New ACT) to guide the vision and facilitate the creation of a new conference from the merger of the New York churches of Wyoming, Troy, Western New York and North Central New York annual conferences if the proposal is approved by the Northeastern Jurisdiction Conference meeting July 13-18 in Harrisburg, Pa.

The Pennsylvania churches of the Wyoming conference will ask to join with the Central Pennsylvania conference.

The day before the vote, conference members were asked to submit questions about the proposed boundary realignments on blue cards. The Troy-New England Conversation Team met late on June 5 to compile the questions.

The Rev. Janice Palm, who chairs both the Troy-New England Conversation Team and the Troy New ACT team, introduced guests from the neighboring conferences: The Rev. Steve Deckard, director of Connectional Ministries from the North Central New York Annual Conference, and the Rev. Sherri Rood, pastor of North Chili United Methodist Church in Western New York Annual Conference. Earlier, the Rev. Dave Marsland, Binghamton district superintendent from the Wyoming conference, addressed the body.

New England Annual Conference representativesThe Rev. Jim McPhee, director of Connectional Ministries, Charles Carnahan, treasurer, and the Rev. John Blackadar, New Hampshire district superintendentwere on hand to answer questions about Vermont churches uniting with New England. Team members Karen Scalla, Evie Doyon, the Rev. Robert Lowenthal and the Rev. John Marshall shared thoughts about the proposal.

Initially against the proposal, Lowenthal said he now supports it. "What turned me around were the face-to-face conversations we've had with people, some of whom are sitting here," he said. "Our district ministries will be strengthened. One of the things I've heard about the New England Annual Conference is the desire to strengthen district and regional ministry. That will be good for Vermont churches. We're going to reap the benefits of the work they've done already in areas of spiritual life, pastoral effectiveness and stewardship.

"New England churches will be greatly enriched as Vermont churches become part of that conference," he said.

Bryan Stone, the E. Stanley Jones professor of evangelism at Boston University School of Theology, delivered keynote addresses on June 5 and June 7 focusing on the task of evangelism in the American imperial context and on evangelism in a market-driven economy. Stone called the church to its original antecedents and to act against the existing culture in ways such as forgiving enemies and valuing the poor.

Members approved the adjusted 2009 budget of $2,120,579, an increase of $51,613 or 2.49 percent more than the 2008 budget. The original proposed budget was increased by $2,000 to cover the cost of increasing the amount paid for volunteer mileage reimbursement.

In her address, Bishop Susan W. Hassinger celebrated the stories of the ministries and missions of churches throughout the Troy conference. Referencing Stone's keynote address, Bishop Hassinger said that the experience of the Christian community is to be counter to the culture of the world. She said that while visiting a United Methodist church in her hometown of Hanover, Pa., earlier this year, she heard the pastor say that "if you want to catch the wind, you have to put yourself where it is blowing."

"That's what we need to be doing at this time in the life of Troy conference," she said, adding that "(we are) led by the spirit where the wind is blowing."

Megan Stowe and Paul Hoffman were ordained elders in full connection on June 6. At the ordination service, many of the clergy processing did not wear robes, offering a silent protest that those in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community who feel the call to ordained ministry could not be ordained.

Margaret Klohck, chairperson of the episcopal committee, presented Bishop Hassinger a gift of more than $3,000 with pledges for more to go to the Nothing But Nets campaign in the bishop's name. The gift was given in gratitude for her ministry as interim bishop for the church's Albany Area. Klohck added that the episcopacy committee had sent a letter to the Northeastern Jurisdiction episcopal committee requesting Bishop Hassinger be assigned "as episcopal leader to Troy Conference until 2012 or until the four conferences merge.

"We are aware for the need of consistency in leadership," Klohck read from the letter. "In the two years Bishop Hassinger has been here, we have appreciated her prayerful insight and discerning leadership. We believe these gifts are important and needed."

Normally, a new bishop would be appointed to serve the episcopal area for a quadrennium. However, if the jurisdictional conference votes to approve the boundaries proposal, two episcopal areas-Albany and New York West-would be merged into one in 2010, affecting the episcopal assignments.

William Cotant, Charles Graham, Maurice Drown, Richard Broyles, Don Wheeler, Robert Purvee, Andrea Sears and Myron H. Ducharme were celebrated on June5 during the retirees' recognition and commissioning service. The Rev. Pat Thompson, who retired from the New England Annual Conference, also was recognized for her service at the Puffer-Morrisville United Methodist Church in Vermont. Rodger White and Kim Goorich were commissioned probationary elders.

Resolutions and petitions were approved that:

  • Directs the conference offering to support immigrants and refugees ministries;
  • Supports the Central Conference Pension Initiative;
  • Gives additional funding for the pension subsidy program;
  • Gives representation to Religion and Race on both the sessions and nominations committee;
  • Encourages congregations and people of the conference to intentionally engage in Christian practices and disciplines for faith development and spiritual formation;
  • Urges Congress to stop funding the war in Iraq;
  • Promotes immigration education in the conference;
  • Educates congregations about energy production, encourages energy audits, makes necessary improvements to both churches and congregants' homes to use renewable energy by purchasing "green power" and supports public policies that encourage these goals;
  • Designates Wolcott United Methodist Church in Vermont a United Methodist historic site;
  • Increases conference paid mileage reimbursement to volunteers to 50 percent of the standard IRS deduction for business mileage, i.e., 25 cents in 2008; and
  • Approves an equitable compensation packet for clergy.

Conference tabled a resolution outlining a long-range plan for archives and history and referred to conference trustees a petition asking to release trustee-held funds for mission work. The conference deferred voting on a petition requiring the conference to provide access to health care for half-time clergy and lay employees.

Receiving awards and recognition were:

  • Sandra Allen, a lay member of Emmaus United Methodist Church in Albany, N.Y., the Denman Evangelism Award;
  • Mariana Rodriguez, accepting the Kinmouth Jefferson Award for Urban Ministry on behalf of the Emmanuel Faith Community in New York;
  • Christ United Methodist Church in Troy, N.Y., the first Outstanding Website Award from the conference communications committee;
  • Mike Davis and Mike Moore, recognized by the Camping and Retreat Ministries for their volunteer work with Skye Farm Camp in New York and Covenant Hills in Vermont, respectively;
  • Brooke Conklin and Alice Trost, Mission Award at the Board of Global Ministries breakfast June 6. A collection taken in their honor will be given to the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference;
  • Paul Dufford, special recognition for serving as an usher for annual conference sessions for 51 years; and
  • Troy Conference, a certificate celebrating its 100 percent participation in the World Service Fund.

Members also celebrated the 60th anniversary of The Advance for Christ and His Church with a mission fair featuring displays on various mission projects and the work of missionaries throughout the world.

Membership stands at 47,518, down 5,687 since 2005, the last year that figures were available. Worship attendance stands at 15,130, down 1,677 since 2005.

Sandra Brands