2010 Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference
Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference
June 2-4, 2010, Baltimore, Md.
The Baltimore-Washington Conference gathered for its 226th session June 2-4 in Baltimore under the theme "Passionate Disciples Celebrate in Worship." Four visiting bishops- Bishops James Swanson, Knoxville Area; Felton May, Retired; Hans Växby, Eurasia Area and Janice Huey, Houston Area-shared in the preaching and celebration of communion.
Conference delegates celebrated the accomplishment of discipleship goals that included engaging 90 percent of worshipers in ministry and mission, a 12 percent increase in baptisms, and 100 percent payment of general church apportionments (13th year in a row). Resident Bishop John Schol praised the conference for its faithful ministry and accomplishments and also noted that the conference is still working toward increasing professions of faith and worship attendance.
Schol in his Episcopal/State of the Church address shared that many of the Conference churches have discipleship capacity gaps in which there is increased spending on building and staffing and declining expenditures for ministry and mission in the community. This leads in part to the challenge of making and engaging new disciples. Membership stands at 185, 082, down 3,657 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 68,450, down 2,027. Church school attendance stands at 65,450, down 4,295. In the Washington, D.C. district, however, the Conference is experiencing increases in mission, professions of faith, worship attendance, membership and apportionment payments.
"Our goals are important, but not as a substitute for pursuing God's agenda," Schol said. "As we are passionate about God's agenda, the fruit in due season will continue to come."
In a change from past conference sessions, conference members by a vote of better than 85 percent tabled four pieces of legislation on homosexuality and engaged in a conversation on the topic. The panel moderated by conference member the Rev. Vance Ross included an equal number of laity and clergy for and against the Discipline's stance on homosexuality. Following the panel discussion, conference members broke into small groups to share their observations and learnings. Conference members described the experience as helpful.
Conference members adopted $14,797,805 apportionment budget and the following four pieces of legislation: guidelines for the election of delegates to General Conference and process for the election of an episcopal candidate(s) that is grounded in spiritual discernment; a policy for pastors' discretionary funds; merger of the Baltimore-Washington Foundation with Eastern Pennsylvania and Peninsula Delaware Foundation to form the United Methodist Mid-Atlantic Foundation; and to start at least two new churches in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
Other highlights at the Annual Conference session included:
In three sessions on leadership, worship and evangelism, Adam Hamilton of the 14,000 member United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Kansas, reminded clergy that the "most important thing they do is to preach effective sermons." Hamilton stressed that "we have the power each week to change the world."
An offering of $5,137 to create a new church in Baltimore and $16,783 in an offering to assist in rebuilding efforts in the earthquake-torn country of Haiti. The youth of the conference presented Bishop Schol with an additional check for $28,550, which was collected at their annual ROCK retreat, for relief work in Haiti. The Conference has raised more than $900,000 for Haiti relief.
Greetings from Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake and renewed commitment by the conference the city as well as a commitment to work on permanent housing for the homeless in Baltimore and Washington.
It was announced that the 35,000 square foot new conference and learning center that will also house a Cokesbury store is scheduled to be finished in August.
Chris Payne, a student at Payne College, thanked the Conference for paying 100 percent of its support of the Black College Fund for 13 consecutive years.
A video that illustrated how the conference distributed more than 19,000 insecticide-treated bed nets to fight malaria in Zimbabwe and how the denomination is working to eradicate malaria by 2015.
- The honoring of 29 retirees who provided 780 years of service to the church.
For the first time, the annual conference was telecast, via live Web streaming. More than 1,199 viewers from 14 states and four countries watched the proceedings.
Throughout the Annual Conference session, Schol called on churches to follow a pathway of prayer, setting a clear vision and challenging leaders to go deeper in their faith, as they celebrate in passionate worship, connect as one through radical hospitality, develop faith through small groups, serve like Christ in risk-taking mission and share their faith extravagantly. "God wants to do great things through us," Schol said.
-Shaun Lane, Director of Communications