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2009 Western North Carolina Annual Conference

Western North Carolina Annual Conference
June 11-14, 2009, Lake Junaluska, N.C.

Delegates to the 2009 Conference welcomed a new bishop and spent more time in worship and less time dealing with business. Bishop Larry M. Goodpaster prepared for this time of 'holy conferencing' by asking United Methodists across the conference to be in prayer and to study the Gospel of Matthew for the 40 days preceding the gathering at Lake Junaluska. He led three Bible studies, based on Scriptures from Matthew, focusing on each part of the conference vision, "Follow Jesus. Make Disciples. Transform the World."

Worship services from various traditions (Native American, Asian American, Hispanic, Taizé, African American, contemporary and traditional) enriched the delegates' experience. From the quiet, meditative approach to worship in the Taizé tradition to the high-spirited, interactive worship of the contemporary service, participants were challenged to "push the envelope" and encounter God in new ways.

Bishop Goodpaster challenged the conference to accomplish several significant goals during the next three years:

  • Increase to 300,000 members in Western North Carolina Conference United Methodist Churches, up from the present 293,000;
  • Increase average worship attendance by 30,000;
  • Increase to 3,000 Volunteer in Mission teams going into all the world from Western North Carolina Conference congregations;
  • Remission 300 existing churches; and
  • Establish 30 new faith communities.

Conference speakers included the Rev. Edgardo Colon-Emeric, Duke Divinity School; John Harmeling (laity address), Myers Park United Methodist Church, Charlotte; Bishop William C. Hutchinson, Louisiana Area; the Rev. Lillie Madison Jones, Lake Norman District Superintendent; the Rev. Patricia Lewis, Gastonia District Superintendent and the Rev. Michael E. Williams, pastor, First United Methodist Church, Hendersonville, Tenn.

More than 450 delegates participated in a hands-on mission project, packing meals for Stop Hunger Now. They packaged 106,087 meals valued at more than $26,000. Additionally, they brought canned food valued at more than $15,000 for local food banks. Through three conference offerings, delegates contributed $12,215 for the mission in Vietnam, $4,587 for Ethnic and Justice Ministries and $17, 922 for Campus Ministries.

Goodpaster recognized 13 newly certified local pastors, commissioned five provisional deacons and 20 provisional elders in addition to ordaining four deacons in full connection and 18 elders in full connection. The conference celebrated the retirement of 20 clergy with 529 cumulative years of service.

The Harry Denman award was presented to Camp Tekoa (group), Peggy Correll (laity) and Charles Kyker (clergy). The Francis Asbury Award was presented to Stephen Cheyney.
In business sessions, the conference:

  • Welcomed Bishop Larry and Deborah Goodpaster to their first Western North Carolina Annual Conference;
  • Voted in favor of eight of the 32 proposed constitution amendments (II, VI, VIII, IX, XV, XVII and XXII);
  • Approved a new conference structure;
  • Gave authority to the Connectional Table to adjust the 2009 and 2010 budgets to best meet the missional needs of the conference in light of conference reorganization;
  • Approved the 2010 budget totaling $14,158,187 (a decrease of 6.65 percent from 2009);
  • Extended for another year the task force on the annual conference meeting;
  • Eliminated the per diem for delegates to the conference beginning in 2010;
  • Gave authority to the bishop and the new connectional table to take care of business between sessions of the annual conference;
  • Received the report recommending conference offices remain in Charlotte on the campus of Aldersgate United Methodist Retirement Community;
  • Celebrated the 100th anniversary of The Children's Home.

Membership stands at 293,180 (down 408) from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 125,745 (down 806). Church school attendance stands at 60,824 (down 1,178).

-Mark L. Barden