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2008 West Virginia Annual Conference

June 2-5, 2008, Buckhannon, W.Va.

The West Virginia Annual Conference convened on the campus of West Virginia Wesleyan College under the theme "A Home for All." Jorge Lockward, global praise program coordinator for the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, led the music and singing.

The conference was recognized as the Northeastern Jurisdiction's most improved in contributions to The Advance, the second-mile giving program of The United Methodist Church. The recognition came during a celebration of the 60th anniversary of The Advance. The Rev. Randy Mitchell, conference coordinator for the Global AIDS Fund, announced that the conference had raised $24,000 in its campaign in support of the denominational fund. The conference also contributed a gift of $13,529 from the United Methodist Publishing House for ministers' pensions to the Central Conference Pension Initiative.

In three sermons, the Rev. Walter Kimbrough, pastor emeritus at Cascade United Methodist Church, Atlanta, preached a Gospel of "Hallelujah" saying Jesus "blesses beyond measure." He urged members to share those blessings with others. Marjorie. Kimbrough offered studies of Scripture featuring women of the Bible. She said preachers should explore the Apocrypha, books not usually found in Protestant Bibles, for insights into biblical heroines like Lydia, Abigal and Esther.

Bishop Ernest S. Lyght praised congregations that are fulfilling their stewardship and evangelistic mandates, but he said the fact that 60 percent of churches in recent years have not received one new member on profession of faith must improve. "Churches can do better," he said.

The Rev. Judy Vetter described how churches in the Moorefield area were helping undocumented immigrants after a recent enforcement action by U.S. authorities that left many families without income.

The 2008 Harry Denman Awards for Evangelism were presented to the Rev. Bobby McClintic, East Greenbrier Charge, and Alma Page, Cross Lanes United Methodist Church. The Rev. Cindy Stackpole, campus pastor at West Virginia University, was honored with the Francis Asbury Award for her service in campus ministry. The conference welcomed Laura Allen as the new conference director of communications succeeding Tom Burger, who retired. The conference bid farewell to the Rev. David Peters, who retired as president of the United Methodist Foundation in the West Virginia.

Fred Kellerman, the conference lay leader, completed his four-year term. In an address, he urged members to restore their commitment to the Great Commission to make disciples of Jesus Christ.

Resolutions encouraging the recycling of plastic bottles and the use of low-energy fluorescent light bulbs were approved. Another measure emphasizing a healthy lifestyle for individuals also passed. A 2009 budget of $11,473,000, a 2.4 percent decrease, was accepted.

Six troops and four packs received the Bishop's Scouting Award. Monty Craig of Stout Memorial United Methodist Church, Parkersburg, received the Scouting's Torch Award.

Bishop Lyght ordained nine elders in full connection and two deacons in associate membership. One probationary deacon and seven probationary elders were commissioned. Twenty-eight pastors retired.

Membership stands at 103,905, down 900 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 51,431, down 128. Church school attendance stands at 27,145, down 670.

Tom Burger