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2009 Northwest Texas Annual Conference

Northwest Texas Annual Conference
June 10-13, 2009, Midland, Texas

Members attending the Northwest Texas Annual Conference were encouraged to Rethink Church and the conference session included leadership training and worship in addition to business sessions and voting on the 32 proposed constitutional amendments of the General Church.

"I believe we have a future with hope," the Rev. Adam Hamilton said. "I believe we can Rethink Church." Hamilton, author of "Leading Beyond the Walls" and senior pastor at United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kan., led a leadership workshop as part of the conference session.

"I don't believe we can keep on how we are and expect different results," he said. "It's critical how we rethink church. It's not just a marketing question. We have to look at the question do we want a future? I don't want to be part of an organization where our best years are behind us...Our church is a church with hope."

Hamilton shared his experience starting Church of the Resurrection and the practices put in place to reach people for Jesus Christ and develop disciples. He said there are three components that churches must focus on in order to continue: leadership, preaching, worship, and Intentional outreach to the community. There must be effective leadership with people willing to become better, he said. Preaching and worship must be inspiring, moving and speak to the hearts of people. All must seek to transform the community so that it looks more like the Kingdom of God and that takes evangelism and mission efforts.

Hamilton also shared many of the tools used by Church of the Resurrection and members of annual conference received a copy of "Leading Beyond the Walls."

Northwest Texas Annual Conference Bishop Max Whitfield embraced the Rethink Church theme as he addressed the conference. "We must arise and shine and rethink church...We are called to make complex and difficult decisions to be faithful, dynamic disciples of Jesus Christ who are committed to being relevant, passionate and life changing churches," Whitfield said. The world today is complex and the old ways of being the church no longer work, he said. "The building is not the church."

Rethinking, changing will take time, Whitfield added. It will take commitment and difficult decisions. It will require opening doors to new relationships and new ministry possibilities. It will take consistent movement, development of a clear mission and vision and a close look at the effectiveness of all ministries. "I'm convinced all of you, lay and clergy, have come to your position of leadership for such a times as this," he said. "We must rethink church."

In a series of sermons centered on the Rethink Church concept, Bishop Earl Bledsoe of the North Texas Conference echoed the sentiments of Hamilton and Bishop Whitfield.
"If we want to see a difference in the church on Sunday morning, then we have to be the church on Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday and Friday and Saturday. We have to be the church," Bledsoe said in his sermon as conference preacher.

The church must reach out to all people and make room for them in the Kingdom, he said. And, members must evoke Christ's love daily, lead the Christian lifestyle.

Donations totaling $13,320.95 was collected for distribution to five mission projects.

Members voted on 32 constitutional amendments as presented by the 2008 General Conference of The United Methodist Church. Ballots will be added to those casts by United Methodists around the world.

The Northwest Texas Conference rejoiced as several people stepped forward in answering their call to ministry. Jerry Krueger and Claude Anton McKiddy were ordained as elders in full connection. Justin Hancock was commissioned as a provisional deacon in full connection and Sandra Keith and Thomas Long were commissioned as provisional elders in full connection. Eight people were recognized as licensed local pastors.

The conference approved a $6.4 million budget for 2010.

Northwest Texas membership stands at 64,213, down 322 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 21,116, down 642 and church school attendance stands at 24,474, down 890.

--Karla Abernethy-Thetford