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2009 Wyoming Annual Conference

Wyoming Annual Conference
June 2-4, 2009, Scranton, Pa.

The Wyoming Annual Conference gathered June 2-4 for its 158th and final full session. Five new elders, one probationary elder and one probationary deacon became the last clergy to become members of the conference during worship services at Elm Park United Methodist Church in Scranton. Next year, the conference will meet for a two-day session in preparation for becoming part of two new annual conferences, one in New York and one in Pennsylvania on July 1, 2010.

Bishop Susan W. Hassinger led the conference and used this year's theme, "Through the Waters" as the basis for her daily Bible studies. In it, she lifted up new things that are happening as we move into the future. Witnesses shared the hope emerging from new congregations formed in two locations by churches choosing to give up their old lives to create new vibrant communities of faith. Also noted, were a congregation that chose a new direction, turning its facility into a mission hub and members going to another nearby church for worship; the planting of seeds for five new house churches; and a church going above and beyond in meeting the needs of at risk youth in its community.

Several people or churches were recognized for the exemplary ways in which they serve God and the church in ministry.

  • The recipients of the Harry Denman Evangelism Awards were Walton Forsythe, lay member of Elm Park United Methodist Church in Oneonta, N.Y., and the Rev. Chay Oudomkhati, pastor of the Lao United Methodist Church in Johnson City, N.Y.
  • The Jefferson Award for Effectiveness in Urban Ministry was presented to First United Methodist Church in Endicott, N.Y. and its pastor, the Rev. Susan E. Davis.
  • The Akers Award for Excellence in Rural Ministry was given to the Rev. Nancy J. Stanley of the Sanataria Springs/Port Crane charge in the Oneonta District. N.Y.
  • The recipient of the Guy Leinthall Award for Social Justice Ministry was the Rev. Susan E. Davis of First United Methodist Church in Endicott, N.Y.
  • The Blair Memorial Scholarship was given to Patricia Cardin, a student at Asbury Theological Seminary.
  • The Sister Spirit Award was presented to the Rev. Jane O'Borski, pastor of Stewart Memorial United Methodist Church in Old Forge, Penn. and a seminary student at Drew University.

Members learned of the progress being made in forming the new conferences. They voted to recommend that the one being formed in Pennsylvania be named the Susquehanna Annual Conference. On the New York side, members were asked to offer themselves for leadership in and offer suggestions for naming the new body.

The conference voted to approve all 32 of the constitutional amendments forward by the 2008 General Conference. In addition, it approved measures calling on local churches and members to contact lawmakers in Pennsylvania to deny support for legalizing video gambling in the commonwealth; and another calling them to examine food purchasing and eating habits for their connections to our health and to the social and economic well-being of others.

Blenda Smith, conference lay leader, noted seeds planted by the conference that are bearing fruit. Among them, Dismantling White Privilege workshops, which have reached more than 400 clergy and laity in the past year, and are now being used by organizations outside the United Methodist Church; and an inter-faith gathering called, "Abraham, Hagar and Sarah: Mending the Rift," developed under the leadership of one of the conference's ministry tables. It brought together Jews, Muslims and Christians for discussion and worship and resulted in calls for continuing the dialog begun at the event.

Membership stands at 60,279, down 1,256 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 14,531, down 1,298. Church school attendance stands at 4,342, down from 17.

-Don Perry