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2009 Wisconsin Annual Conference

Wisconsin Annual Conference
June 14-17, 2009, Appleton, Wis.

The Wisconsin Annual Conference featured the theme "Live Enthusiastically," which was woven throughout the four days of activities. Bishop Linda Lee delivered a heartfelt, enthusiastic message during the opening celebration and youth service in the park, which followed an afternoon of mission work. Approximately 500 attendees donated a total of 2,000 hours of time to help with worthy causes throughout the Appleton area or attend disaster response training.

Lee called upon all "to live beyond what's ordinary beyond what everybody does all the time to be in touch with our purpose, passion, perseverance." Her words were put into action during Mission Day.

The Rev. Sue D'Alessio, who is leaving to take on a new role as executive director of leadership development for the California-Pacific Annual Conference and the Claremont School of Theology, was honored for her service as the director of connectional ministries for the last two years. The Rev. Dan Dick, who recently worked at the United Methodist Board of Discipleship, was welcomed as the new director of connectional ministries. Another highlight was the participation by 21 delegates from the Dongbu Conference in Korea, including current and former bishops. The question What If from the Rethink Church campaign was another theme communicated throughout the session in presentations, skits, as well as the cabinet is and lay leader's addresses.

Mark Geisthardt of GCFA presented Lee with a special recognition certificate for Wisconsin's 100 percent apportionment payment for 2008. The conference attendees also demonstrated their willingness to give enthusiastically during several special offerings: $1,634, Ministries for Children and Youth in Wisconsin and Project Russia; $1,706, Dongbu Conference and Clergy in Transition; $1,193, East Angola; and $1,833, Native American Ministries and Summer Developers Program.

In addition, many participants donated mission items and money, with an estimated total value of $65,386, to help impoverished and disaster stricken areas both nationally and internationally. Donations included cleaning kits, school bags, health kits, medicine kits and more. It was also reported that the Nothing But Nets effort in Wisconsin has raised a total of $58,550 for 2008 and 2009.

Throughout the plenary sessions, the conference practiced holy conferencing in its discussions of the important issues and decisions that needed to be made.
Several conference action items were voted on for implementation in 2010. All were passed with some minor amendments to a few of them. Significant action taken by the conference included the approval of the sale of two beloved camps, setting a goal of $500,000 to contribute to the Central Conference Pension Initiative, a 4 percent reduction recommended by CF&A in the pre-conference proposed 2010 budget, and the closing of three churches. The Conference also celebrated two new church charters, including Sugar River in Verona and Family Church in Menasha.

The conference members voted in favor of all 32 Constitutional Amendments submitted for ratification by the 2008 General Conference.

Lee ordained six elders, commissioned six provisional members, and licensed four local pastors. A total of 12 pastors retired.

Preliminary membership stands at 84,292, down 2.9 percent from last year. Preliminary worship attendance stands at 38,814, down 3.7 percent from 2008. Preliminary church school attendance stands at 11,844, down 5.3 percent.

-Michele Virnig