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2009 Iowa Annual Conference

Iowa Annual Conference
June 4-7, 2009, Ames, Iowa

Bishop Julius Calvin Trimble presided at his first session of the Iowa Annual Conference, declaring, in his sermon for the opening worship service, that everyone is "No Longer A Stranger." He called on the conference to "live up to our advertising&ellipsis;live up to Radical Hospitality." The a cappella ensemble from Rust College and Hope for Africa Children's Choir performed during the service.

The bishop's FIT (Focus, Invest, Tell) Challenge invited laity and clergy to answer, "Is it well with your soul? Are you connected to the Vine of Jesus Christ?" In the Laity Address, Norma Morrison, the conference lay leader said, "I believe our purpose as a Church is to bring hope in the midst of the muck of our world" as she addressed both the post-flooding reality in Iowa, one year later, and other global crises.

The conference voted to sell two of its five camps and direct the proceeds to be utilized for capital improvements at the remaining camp and retreat centers." A Bishop's Task Group on Missional Congregations was approved, charged to give definition to the term "mission congregation" and develop a protocol for supporting such congregations as they serve low-income populations with an active program of community service and outreach, low-income ethnic-minority communities, or special populations vital to the goals of the annual conference."

The 2010 and 2011 conference sessions will move to Hy-Vee Hall in Des Moines, providing greater accessibility and opportunities for radical hospitality. A Human Resources Director will be added to the conference staff, following the approval of a yearlong study.

Citing her personal mission statement that calls her to "serve God and humanity where I can be a positive influence on as many lives as possible," Racelder Grandberry-Trimble, spouse of the bishop, encouraged the conference to "rejoice" and to raise awareness and support the denomination's Four Areas of Focus. "I am most delighted to be here in the Iowa Annual Conference and will continue to pray for you," she said.

In her memorial service sermon, the Rev. Karen Nichols Dungan, assistant to the bishop for connectional ministries, asked, "How can we be examples of faith to others when we're in the midst of trauma?...Finding grace and mercy is where we see God at work. In our ability to give thanks we acknowledge God's involvement."

The Rev. Wesley S. K. Daniel declared that there is "A Charge to Keep: Go Preach Christ" in the commissioning and retirement service sermon. He said, "we are ALL (whether clergy or laity) called to share, proclaim and preach about the life, death and new live in Christ."

The ordination service featured the participation of retired United Methodist Bishop Sharon Zimmerman Rader and the ecumenical presence of Bishop Michael Last of the Western Iowa Synod of the Evangelical Lucheran Church in America. Trimble urged those being ordained to move "One Step Beyond Caution." "Caution limits difficult questions, avoids all conflict, preaches only favorite texts&ellipsis;encourages you to avoid the call for justice&ellipsis;keeps you from declaring that it's not right to ignore the world outside our doors; it's not right for children to be hungry in Uganda or neglected in Iowa&ellipsis;" He called on the 18 who were ordained to "Get to know God better."

Compensation for district superintendents will decrease in 2010, based on a formula tied to the conference average compensation.

Conference Treasurer Chuck Smith reported that in 2008: 583 congregations paid 100 percent of their apportionments and 113 congregations gave a higher percentage than in 2007; 225 congregations grew in membership; Iowa congregations received 3,027 members by profession of faith, a 7 percent increase from 2007; 240 congregations had more baptisms than deaths in 2008, with 2,557 baptized reported for a 6 percent increase; 290 congregations reported an increase in church school enrollment and participation; the total number of people served by the weekday programs was 22,068, a 45 percent increase; 139 congregations reported an increase in participation in week day formation groups. In 2009, when in prior year apportionments paid are factored in, receipts are down only 0.74 percent from the previous year.

The conference voted on the proposed 32 Constitutional Amendments and approved 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 17, and 19. Detail of the vote tallies on the Constitutional Amendments is included in the Conference Highlights Summary at: http://bit.ly/09iaumc

Membership stands at 186,590, down 2 percent from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 62, 035, down 4 percent. Church school attendance stands at 20.093, down 8 percent.

-Arthur McClanahan