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2010 West Ohio Annual Conference

West Ohio Annual Conference
June 7-10, 2010, Lakeside, Ohio

Under the banner "Love in Action: Building Bridges Out of Poverty," the 41st session of the West Ohio Annual Conference was presided over by Resident Bishop Bruce R. Ough as we celebrated the multiple ways the congregations of the West Ohio Conference are engaged in ministry with those living in poverty.

In a variety of teaching sessions, members learned how to help sisters and brothers build bridges out of poverty. All of you together are Christ's body, and each of you is a part of it.If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. I Corinthians 12:26-27

The conference began with much sadness due to the news of storms and tornados in Northwest Ohio, resulting in community-wide destruction and the death of one of our student local pastors.

The approximately 2,500 members and guests attending the conference at Lakeside, Ohio, received a powerful reminder from Bishop Ough that "as a Love First Conference, we are about provoking one another to put our love into action."Each of West Ohio's annual conference sessions throughout Bishop Ough's third quadrennium in West Ohio is focusing on one of the Four Areas of Focus.

Ough's Annual Episcopal Address instructed that,"As United Methodists, we have a particular DNA that guides how we join in God's work in Christ. We proclaim no personal gospel that fails to express itself in relevant social concerns. We proclaim no social gospel that does not include the personal transformation of sinners. This creative tension defines Methodism."

According to Ough, "...John Wesley understood and taught that there is a difference between acts of mercy and acts of justice...We dare not offer the gospel in Christ's name without offering bread in Christ's name. And we dare not offer bread in Christ's name without addressing the very political and economic systems that brutalize human beings beyond our imagination."Ough highlighted the multitude of ways that West Ohio United Methodists are already "building the bridge between Christ's love for the world and the suffering of God's people" in West Ohio communities and globally.

The most dramatic and visible evidence of inspiring love occurred when nearly 2,000 members in the audience came forward to sign pledge cards on which they committed to finding ways to build bridges out of poverty. In addition, the "Love First" Miracle Offering brought nearly $172,000 for Grace Children's Hospital in Haiti and the United Methodist Children's Home in West Ohio, and 20,000 pounds of potatoes for distribution in West Ohio by the Society of St. Andrew.

Special guest speakers included the Rev. Janet Wolf (Nashville), Rev. Jorge Acevedo (Grace Church, Florida) and Bishop Raul Garciade Ochoa (Conferencia Oriental of the Methodist Church of Mexico). Bishop Callon Holloway (Southern Ohio Synod Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) assisted during ordination. In addition, nine workshops were held with keynote presenters focusing on various ways to build bridges out of poverty.

Throughout the week, both spontaneous challenges and planned events invited participation and offered excitement. Highlights included a Youth vs. Cabinet Water Balloon Volleyball game, a "Rock the Dock" concert and dance, an Internet Café where members could "plug in," and live streaming for those unable to attend the conference but interested in participating. Interspersed throughout the agenda were a series of Ministry Moments, lifting up stories of building bridges out of poverty by churches and ministries supported by and partnered with the West Ohio Conference. A Ministry Fair offered exhibits by churches and other ministries demonstrating love in action by building bridges out of poverty.

In other conference business members:

  • Elected Bill Brownson as Conference Treasurer/Director of Administrative Services to follow retiring the Rev. Stan Sutton.
  • Adopted a resolution to support abolishing human trafficking.
  • Adopted a resolution to support fair trade.
  • Adopted a resolution to revise the Ministerial Sexual Ethics Policy.
  • Reviewed a report from the West Ohio Divestment Task Force.

Bishop Ough commissioned two provisional deacon candidates and 13provisional elder candidates. Twenty elders and one deacon were ordained. He honored 32 pastors entering retirement and celebrated the memories of 59 clergy and clergy spouses who died during the previous year.

Membership stands at 205,889, down 6,225 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 115,899, down 1,264. The conference reported 37,029 in church school attendance, down 1,175 from the previous year.

- Lisa Streight, Director of Communications,
West Ohio Conference

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