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2010 North Georgia Annual Conference

North Georgia Annual Conference
June 16-18, 2010, Athens, Ga.

The 2010 North Georgia Annual Conference, held June 16-18 in Athens, Ga., convened under the theme: "Ordinary to Extraordinary: Wake Up and See Where God is Moving."

The nearly 3,000 people who attended heard and saw various examples of where God is, indeed, moving in a powerful way. Bishop B. Michael Watson preached the opening worship service, based on Genesis 28:10-19, challenging members of the conference to wake up and see where God is in action. "Are you willing? Are you ready? Are you able?" he asked. "Because the power of the Holy Spirit is among us." Watson also delivered a stirring sermon at Wednesday night's Service of Ordination and Commissioning.

The conference commissioned 32 provisional members, ordained 7 full connection deacons and ordained 18 full connection elders. North Georgia also recognized 23 retiring clergy members representing 640 years of service. Retiring District Superintendent DeDe Leetch preached at a Service of Remembrance in recognition of 14 deceased clergy, 13 deceased clergy spouses. There were lay people remembered as well.

More than 850 volunteers from the conference and surrounding community, packaged dehydrated meals as part of Stop Hunger Now. They worked well into the evening Thursday, completing 200,230 meals to be sent to feed school-age children in Nicaragua.

A 17-person task force, chaired by Henry Bowden, presented initial findings involving options for the future of the Simpsonwood Retreat and Conference Center. The task force has preliminarily concluded that the long-range operation of the retreat center is not financially viable even if the debt is paid off and $2 to $3 million could be provided for capital improvements. A motion was approved to empower the task force to seek a legal ruling on whether the conference may legally divide or sell the property.

Tommy Willingham, director of New Church Development, reported that three new church starts have been constituted: City on a Hill UMC, Redemption Community Church and IMPACT UMC. Four other are preparing to constitute in the upcoming year: Arbor Pointe; Covenant UMC, Evans; Fellowship UMC, Dallas; UMC of the Way Lawrenceville.

First-year Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed was keynote speaker at Friday's Laity Lunch. The mayor, who talked extensively about his roots in the United Methodist Church-specifically at Ben Hill and Cascade churches-brought the sold-out crowd to its feet with his inspirational message and call to raise the level of dialogue of political discourse.

Members of the North Georgia Annual Conference adopted four resolutions related to the Commission on the Status and Role of Women; a program coordinator for "Creation Care; establishment of an annual Day for Men and the rental/housing allowance for retired or disabled The North Georgia Conference paid $22,612,733 in apportionments in 2009.
Receipts for Conference and General Advances and other special offerings totaled $2,156,197. Some 669 Churches out of 924 paid 100 percent of their apportionments, down from 722 in 2008, and 757 in 2007.

The $25,295,067 budget proposed by the Council on Finance and Administration was approved, representing a decrease of $614,933 from the 2010 budget. During conference $122,720.86 was raised to support the Central Conference Pension Initiative

Camp Glisson, which is debt free, celebrated its 85th anniversary and is working to update its master plan.

The Office of Connectional Ministries announced a new initiative-Bridges of Mission-which seeks to build relationships between the North Georgia Conference and ministry partners around the world.

Membership is at 356,279, up 2,185 from the previous year. There were 6,622 professions of faith, down 48. Average worship attendance was 127,486, down 3,240.

- Glenn Hannigan