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2010 Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference

Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference
May 20-22, 2010, Lancaster, Penn.

With a theme of "Leading Beyond the Walls," the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference met May 20-22, 2010, at the Lancaster County Convention Center in Lancaster, Penn.

Nearly 1,000 clergy and lay delegates attended, representing the conference's 463 churches. Dr. Mary White was elected to a second four-year term as Conference Lay Leader.

At Opening Worship, Bishop Peggy Johnson welcomed Bishop B. Penrose Hoover, bishop of the Lower Susquehanna area of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Bishop Johnson preached, "When we remember Jesus we think about all of the parts of the body. All the world is called into union with Christ through this act of death. Yet, all of the parts of the body are not equally welcome. Some parts are not welcome at all. We struggle with our remembering because to remember means to accept as part of us, all of us."

The Rev. Adam Hamilton, senior pastor of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, was the Annual Conference keynote speaker. His presentations focused on Effective Church Leadership, Ideas for Preaching and Worship, and Strategies for Reaching the Unchurched. In his second session, on preaching, Hamilton spoke on the results of a study in which many people indicated that they do not find fulfillment during a worship service, and did not expect to. He invited preachers to think about worship as a "Soul Food Cafe."

At the Memorial Service, Arthur F. Kulah, bishop of the Nigeria Area of The United Methodist Church, offered words in remembrance of the deceased. Family members lighted candles for each remembered person, while the bell from historic Mother African Zoar United Methodist Church was rung.

Nineteen retiring pastors, representing a total of 540 years of ministry, were honored at the Retiree Service. As a symbolic transfer of the mantle of ministry from the retirees to the new ordinands, the Rev. Richard Conner "yoked" the Rev. Wendy Orzolek with a red stole. The service concluded as retiring pastors anointed and prayed with the new ordinands.

There were more than 1,000 registrations for lunchtime workshops on a variety of topics including leadership, evangelism, Safe Sanctuaries and social justice issues as well as developing healthy church finances and including young people.

Led by the Rev. Lillian Smith, Director of Connectional Ministries, the Celebration of Ministries included camping, urban ministry, new church starts, Healing the Wounds of Racism, communications updates on the new conference website and database, and congregational transformation. A new video from the General Board of Church and Society on the Social Creed was shown. The Rev. Smith recognized Ben Botti, retiring coordinator of EPA Volunteers in Mission. Four conference congregations received an UMCOR certificate recognizing their refugee resettlement ministry: Chiques, Lancaster: First, Lohr's Memorial, and Grandview. Six Lay people and four Pastor-Mentors who had completed Modules 1 and 2 of Lay Missioner training were awarded their certificates. Rachel Barnett, representing the Advance for Christ, spoke on the work and accomplishments of this second-mile giving program of the General Board of Global Ministries. Columbia United Methodist Church received the Kim Jefferson Award for Urban Ministry for their ecumenical work with impoverished persons in the community.

Ordination concluded the 224th annual session. Ten people were ordained with Elders Orders, and the Orders of another were recognized. One person was commissioned for Deacons Orders and seven were commissioned for Elders Orders. Bishop Peggy Johnson was assisted in the ordination by Bishops Arthur F. Kulah of the Nigeria Annual Conference and John R. Schol of the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference. The Eastern Pennsylvania Conference welcomed back home Bishop Schol, who preached for the service.

A concurrent youth rally called "The Big Event" drew a diverse crowd of youth from across the conference to First UMC in Lancaster. Top on the bill was preaching by Pastor Shawn McBride and music by Christian rock group, Saline.

The three offerings at Annual Conference raised funds for these important ministries: Hope for the Children of Africa $5,679.18; Scholarships for Undergraduate and Seminary Students $4,021.36; and the Central Conference Pension Initiative $3,620.50.

The Annual Conference was video-streamed live online, watched by more than 900 people. Interpretation in American Sign Language, assistive listening devices, and on-creen transcription of the spoken word were offered for deaf and hard-of-hearing people. A big-screen reader made written materials available to persons with visual disabilities. Up-to-the-minute news was posted throughout the conference on both Facebook and Twitter (#epaumc).

Camping was one of the most popular exhibits in the Vendor area, featuring the making of "s'mores" over a small flame.

In her Laity Address, Dr. Mary White, Conference Lay Leader, asked if we believed that we are a denomination in decline or, "do we believe that God is alive, active and at work in our world? Do we expect God to do great things among us?"

Resolutions approved included designation of Bensalem, Bethel Hill, and St. James/Solid Rock United Methodist Churches as Historic Sites of the United Methodist Church; the establishment of a Consumer Driven Health Care Plan for the Year 2011; and the merger of the Eastern Pennsylvania/Peninsula and Baltimore-Washington UM Foundations. A Resolution presented on the floor of Annual Conference: A Call to Action for Immigration Reform, was approved. The recommendations from the Report of the Blue Ribbon Committee to the 2010 Session of the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference on the 2008 and 2009 Payments to World Service Fund were approved.

The Fall Session of Annual Conference will be held on Saturday, November 13, 2010, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Hempfield United Methodist Church , 3050 Marietta Ave., Lancaster, PA 17601. Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference 2011 will be held May 19-21, 2011 at the Philadelphia Expo Center, Oaks, PA.

The 2010 Annual Conference Video Gallery can be accessed free of charge through the online video gallery: www.epaumc.org/news/videogallery.

-Suzy Keenan, Director of Communications