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2010 Northwest Texas Annual Conference

Northwest Texas Centennial Annual Conference
Lubbock, Texas

Sharing HIStory, Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow. That was the theme of the 2010 Northwest Texas Centennial Annual Conference. There was a lot to celebrate in three short days.

Members gathered in Lubbock, Texas to celebrate 100 years of ministry in Northwest Texas. Annual Conference opened with a processional of churches. Representatives carried signs with the names of churches in existence 100 years ago that remain active today. The opening hymns and Scripture were the same used at the first Annual Conference in Clarendon.

The opening created a spirit of pride and hope for the future.

A Centennial Banquet provided a time of reflection as photos of original and current church buildings were shown. A song to commemorate the occasion was written and played at the event and minister and artist Kenneth Wyatt entertained those in attendance with stories and memories.

While members remembered the past, Bishop D. Max Whitfield asked them to look to the future.

In his State of the Church address, Whitfield encouraged clergy and laity to imagine God's future.

"Will you live toward that future? For you see God offers it to you and to me and to all of the people who compose this Northwest Texas Annual Conference. God offers us this

future in Jesus Christ," Whitfield said. "We have a past. We have a present. And the future - can you imagine it? Can you tell God's story to all?"

Whitfield also asked those gathered to:

  • Imagine ministry with the poor.
  • Imagine a world where no one dies of malaria.
  • Imagine that at least one-half of all congregations in this Conference establish a new faith community.
  • Imagine every pastor serving congregations is focused on following Jesus Christ in their personal lives and in their corporate decisions.
  • Imagine that God is lord of your life, lord of your congregation.
  • Imagine that God is using imperfect people.

"God is using broken, cracked vessels to bring the gospel message to people who do not know or have rejected Jesus," Whitfield said.

But how does the church share HIStory and reach the world in today's time? How does it gain the funding needed to do ministry?

Clif Christopher was the featured speaker during the Conference teaching sessions. The author of "Not Your Parents' Offering Plate: A New Vision for Financial Stewardship" spoke about financial stewardship and sharing the ministry stories that inspire people to be part of a church's mission.

When potential donors are choosing to support causes other than the work of the church, one of two things is happening, Christopher said.

"Either we're not truly changing lives in a way that causes donors to give money or we're keeping the ministries we're doing a deep, dark secret. Either way, we've got to change," he said. "The competition for charitable dollars is intense and we has the MethodistChurch must compete."

According to Christopher, the church must believe in the mission, have a higher regard for staff, be fiscally responsible, retreat with theme of why us, share a personal story weekly, utilize every pocket ... every year(annual, capital, planned), get online and recruit better players.

"We must show the ministries and how those ministries are changing lives and we must ask - ask for the means to fund those ministries and make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world," Christopher said.

"Remember, talking about money is about saving souls. All that we have is God's and we must trust Him enough to let go," Christopher said. "The world needs Christ and we need funding to share Christ with the world."

Asking people to give is spiritual not financial, he said.

The 2011 budget of $6.9 million presented by the Council on Finance and Administration was approved.

A resolution was approved that allows up to 75 percent of the annual interest accumulated from excess Equitable Compensation funds on deposit to be used for the development of new ministers in mission situations both inside and outside the annual conference.

Annual Conference ended with the ordination service. Three people were ordained as elders in full connection.

Statistical information regarding membership was not available at the time of this report.

By Karla Abernethy-Thetford
Area Director of Communications