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2010 Detroit Annual Conference

Detroit Annual Conference
May 20-23, 2010, Adrian, Mich.

"Wherever the Water Flows...Life Flourishes, Life Abounds" was the theme of the 2010 Detroit Annual Conference session, held May 20-23 on the campus of Adrian College in Adrian, Mich. The theme tied in with one of the Four Areas of Focus of The United Methodist Church - "creating new spaces for new people and revitalizing existing congregations."

The Rev. Lovett H. Weems Jr., executive director of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership at Wesley Theological Seminary, was the "teacher in residence" during the four-day session. Weems spoke to the lay members of the annual conference, addressed the plenary session for two 60-minute presentations, speaking on "Five Questions for Congregations" and "Only Babies Want to be Changed." He also participated in a luncheon with the young clergy of the Detroit Conference.

The most significant legislative action taken by the conference was to reduce the number of districts in the conference from seven to six by no later than July 1, 2011. The current district structure in the Detroit Conference has been in place since the 1970s. Since then, the total membership of the conference has declined by 47 percent. Now that the annual conference has set the number of districts, Bishop Jonathan D. Keaton will be responsible for drawing the new district lines according to paragraph 415.4 of The Book of Discipline.

Bishop Keaton ordained six deacons and eight elders and commissioned one provisional deacon and three provisional elders during the Service of Ordination and Commissioning, which included a sermon by Wisconsin Area Bishop Linda Lee. The average age of those ordained was 45 years old. Twenty-two clergy celebrated their retirement during the conference, including the Rev. Terry A. Euper, who was recognized for 40 years of ministry, including the last seven as Clergy Assistant to the Bishop. The Rev. William C. Dobbs, a member of the West Michigan Conference, will replace Euper. Dobbs currently serves as the Heartland District Superintendent.

There were also two changes to the Detroit Conference appointive cabinet. The Rev. Thomas P. Macaulay, Ann Arbor District Superintendent, is retiring on June 31, and will be replaced by the Rev. Mark E. Spaw, pastor of Trenton: Faith UMC. After six years of service to the district, the Rev. Louise Ott, Saginaw Bay District Superintendent, is being succeeded by the Rev. Jeffrey R. Maxwell, pastor of Farmington: First UMC.

To celebrate its covenant relationships with the Haiti and Liberia Methodist Churches, the conference was greeted by the Rev. Marco Depreste, secretary of the Haiti Methodist Church. The conference also heard the testimonies of two youth who are making a significant impact in Liberia. Jessica Arnold, a 17-year-old from Waterford: Central UMC, raised $5,000 for scholarships to the CW Duncan School, while 12-year old Kelly Erickson from Plymouth: First UMC presented Bishop Keaton with a check for over $8,000 to build water wells in Liberia. In addition, the conference raised over $25,000 for the purchase of a much-needed delivery truck for the Liberia Methodist Church and collected $43,032 from local churches to be split between the Haiti and Liberia Methodist Churches during the four-day session.

Over $1,500 was raised for Nothing But Nets through the sale of the CD "Nothing But Praise" by Bishop Keaton. Bishop Keaton was asked to record the CD by the 2009 annual conference, and all recording and duplication expenses were contributed so that all money raised from the CD would go towards the purchase of bed nets to prevent malaria.

The Detroit Conference was also recognized by the General Board of Global Ministries as the highest contributor to missionaries in the North Central Jurisdiction in 2009. Adam Neal from GBGM presented the award to the conference.

Other significant action taken by the conference included:

  • Approving of a budget for 2011 totaling $9,737,237, a slight reduction from the previous year;

  • A call for the conference to persuade Heifer Project International to include Liberia in its list of recipient countries;

  • Renaming the Young Adult Task Force to the Conference Commission on Young Adult Communities.The Commission's charge is to help increase Young Adult opportunities throughout the connection - from the local church to the General Church.

  • Requiring all local church offices to have high-speed internet, where possible;

  • Petitioning the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits to divest itself of funds that it has invested in corporations whose businesses and products are supporting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land;

  • Giving support to changing Michigan's Ethnic Intimidation Act to extend protections to people such as lesbian, gays, bisexual and transgendered persons who are victims of hate crimes and discrimination;

  • Asking the conference secretary to contact the Mayor of the City of Detroit and other cities as well as county executives to request the Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm declare a state of emergency in Michigan;

Membership stands at 94,679, down 2,172 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 45,099, down 332. Church school attendance stands at 12,523 down 249.

Paul Thomas, Detroit Conference Director of Communications