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2008 Wisconsin Annual Conference

June 8-11, 2008, Madison

Bishop Linda Lee presided over the 39th session of the Wisconsin Annual Conference with the theme of "Love God, Neighbor, Self."

The clergy session was called to order at 3 p.m. June 10 with the report of the board of ordained ministry. In addition to approving candidates for ordination, commissioning and retirement, the clergy session voted to approve "Guidelines for Continuing Education" that define the minimum expectations for clergy continuing education in the conference.

The laity session began at 4 p.m. Karen McCaa, the guest speaker, focused her message on taking risks, following dreams, always loving others, being true to ourselves, and examining our hearts and minds to embrace and engage in holy conferencing. The Faithful Men, from Crossroad United Methodist Church in Waunakee, provided the music.

At the Ordination Service on June 8, six people were ordained elders. During the Service for Celebration of Ministries on June 10, five people were commissioned as probationary members, 10 newly licensed local pastors were recognized, and 19 retiring clergypersons were honored.

At opening worship with communion on June 9, Bishop Lee preached on the topic of "Beyond All Expectation." The new Social Litany, which had been approved at General Conference, was introduced during worship.

On June 10, during the Memorial Service, the conference remembered people who had died in the past year clergy members, clergy spouses, clergy family members, laity of the conference, and family members of people present.

The conference guest speaker, Bishop Susan Hassinger, leader of the Albany Area, shared three presentations on the art of holy conferencing, gave time for table conversations and invited people to share their thoughts, questions and responses to each topic at microphones on the floor of the conference.

The Wisconsin Annual Conference has been involved in a strategic planning process, led by the Rev. Dan Dick, research coordinator for the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. In order to model ways the conference is working together in collaborative, quality relationships, the Cabinet Address (Nancy Moffatt, dean of the cabinet) and the Laity Address (Dorthy Radley, conference lay leader) were interwoven with the Strategic Plan Report (Sue D'Alessio, director of connectional ministries), along with "testimonies" from lay and circuit ministries.

Each member of the 2008 General Conference Delegation reported on one day of General Conference. Lisa King announced the delegation's endorsement of the Rev. Jorge Luis Mayorga Solis as a candidate for election to the episcopacy. On June 11, the annual conference voted to endorse him for bishop.

On behalf of the General Council on Finance and Administration, Lisa King, director of conference finance and administration, presented the "100 percent General Church Apportionment Support" certificate for 2007, marking 19 consecutive years of full payment of general church apportionments by the Wisconsin Annual Conference.

The Board of Global Ministries recognized Billie LaBumbard as she retires following eight years of service as conference coordinator of missions.

The Rev. Nancy Moffatt (retiring) was recognized for her six years as district superintendent (Chippewa-Heartland). The Rev. Ann Spindt Henschel was introduced as the new Chippewa-Heartland District Superintendent.

In other actions, conference members approved:

  • Local church camping coordinator;
  • Camp and Retreat Emphasis Sunday;
  • New camp participants;
  • United Methodist Women's Sunday;
  • United Methodist Youth Sunday;
  • Rule change young adult ministries;
  • Designation of earnings from the "new Ministries Fund";
  • Rental/housing allowances for retired/disabled clergy;
  • Past service annuity rate;
  • Minimum compensation;
  • Formal funding plan for pre-1982 pension liability;
  • Retiree Medicare supplemental health insurance;
  • Proposed policy changes;
  • Learning, Living & Growing Together;
  • Establishing a Conference Faith-Based Safety Task Force;
  • HIV/AIDS Proactive Task Force;
  • Celebrating "A Jesus Christmas";
  • Our Response to Global Climate Change;
  • Discontinuance of Abrams United Methodist Church;
  • Discontinuance of Lorain United Methodist Church;
  • Location of 2009 annual conference;
  • 2009 proposed budget; and
  • Allowing P&A to set locations for 2010-2012 annual conferences.

The conference did not approve a recommendation for "Healing, Reconciliation & Rebuilding in Iraq."

The conference also celebrated the chartering of the New Hope United Church at DePere, Wis., and approved a motion creating a "Task Force for Young Adult Ministries." The conference also established partner relationships with the East Angola Annual Conference and the Wisconsin Native American Ministry for the coming quadrennium.

Offerings received included support for the Clergy in Transition Fund; Dong Bu Conference of the Korean Methodist Church, $1,585.14; Summer Developers Program; Children & Youth in WI (Rising Sun Camp), $1,723.26; New Orleans Katrina and Wiley College, $1,590.78; and Ministries for the East Angola Conference, $1,392.26.

The conference also collected 373 flood buckets (kept in Wisconsin); 8,527 preemie caps; 2,062 school bags; 223 blankets; 248 ditty bags (for seafarers); 65 medicine chests; 42 school desks; $9,545 for shipping; $1,930 for phone cards (for seafarers); and 1,194,211 pennies for the Global AIDS Fund ($11,942).

An offering for Nothing But Nets collected initial pledges of $18,966 for the anti-malaria campaign, with $8,126 already given.

Conference membership stands at 87,742; down 2,540 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 40,761, down 1,166. Church school attendance stands at 12,568, down 792.

-Sue D'Alessio, Kevin Rice Myers, Amy Jameson Yackovich and Lisa King