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2009 Arkansas Annual Conference

Arkansas Annual Conference
June 14-17, 2009 Rogers, Ark.

The 32 proposed amendments from last year's General Conference were major topics of discussion during the Arkansas Annual Conference. The theme of this year's conference was "Transforming the World."

By far the most contentious were the 23 proposed amendments related to the worldwide nature of the United Methodist Church. After nearly two hours of debate, voting members of the annual conference overwhelmingly rejected these amendments, which dealt with the formation of regional conferences in the United States and abroad. Members voted down these amendments in most cases by margins of 4 to 1.

The amendments' supporters argued that the "regional conference" designation would help the church be less U.S.-centric and more globally minded. The change would allow the denomination's quadrennial General Conference to focus only on issues that affect the worldwide church and leave more localized concerns up to the regional conferences. However, opponents contended that the amendments would give regional conferences too much autonomy and create an additional layer of bureaucracy. Other opponents said the amendments' impact was still unclear.

Conference members also rejected a proposed amendment that would broaden the church's definition of inclusiveness to ban all forms of discrimination. They also voted against an amendment to require "All official organizations, groups, committees, councils, boards and agencies of The United Methodist Church" to establish ethics and conflict-of-interest policies.

The conference approved Amendments 8, 9, 15, 17, 19 and 22. To be ratified, an amendment requires two-thirds approval from all individuals voting in all the annual conferences. Each annual conference submits its totals, and all totals are tabulated for the aggregate number. Exact vote tallies for the 32 amendments are available at

Also at the conference:

  • Bishop Charles Crutchfield announced his plans to appoint a steering committee of seven to nine people, who will spend the coming months examining Arkansas Conference operations. The committee with the help of consultant, the Rev. Gil Rendle will look for ways the conference can be better stewards of resources and more effective in ministry. The committee also aims to counteract a downward turn in membership and weekly church attendance.
  • Twelve elders were ordained, and 19 clergymen and women were commissioned as provisional members. Two deacons were ordained, and one associate member was received.
  • The Rev. Edward W. Paup, top executive of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, preached at Sunday and Monday evening worship services,
  • The conference's Vision Team presented some of the ways the conference is addressing the four areas of focus.
  • Voting members unanimously passed the 2010 budget of $13,775,606, down by 3.34 percent from this year.
  • For the second year, the annual conference included a 5K run/walk as part of the conference's Holy Healthy initiative to promote regular exercise and good nutrition.
  • For the first time, the conference included sessions where people could explore spiritual disciplines such as labyrinth, lectio divina and religious art.

Membership stands at 137,979, down 839 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 54,774, down 1,353 from 2007. The average weekly Sunday school attendance stands at 86,422, up 1,111.