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2010 Western New York Annual Conference

Western New York Annual Conference
June 5, 2010

With a closing motion presented by Western New York Annual Conference Secretary, the Rev. Dr. Gregory Crispell, on the afternoon of June 5, 2010, and a benediction by the Rev. Dr. Marcus Matthews, resident bishop, the Western New York Annual Conference closed for the last time, planting the seed for new ministry within the Upper New York Annual Conference.

Opening worship of the final Western New York Conference session began with voices lifting up "Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah," prayer and the reading of Psalm 122 and Acts 20: 22-24 "If only I may finish my course to testify to the good news of God's grace." The Rev. Dr. Lawrence Lundgren brought the message, which focused on moving forward knowing God is in charge.

The Rev. Lundgren shared inspiring encouragement as he lifted up answering a call to go where we do not know the people.

"I have no clear picture what this new Annual Conference will look like. We see only the basis of a structure before us. But we know that the architect and builder is God. How do we know this? It comes form our covenant.We know that when we gather together in Holy Conferencing, God is in our midst."

"The journey of faith begins with the realization that we are not in charge, and from there we can proceed to align ourselves to the One who is in charge. Jesus is declaring to the disciples, Go into the world knowing who is in charge and what it will mean to act upon that knowledge!

"Jesus is clear, however, that to act on that knowledge is not always easy.

The Rev. Lundgren noted, "The Lord declares I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you; hope and a future. If you will call upon me and come and pray to me, I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me if you seek me with all your heart Jeremiah 29:11-13."

One hundred and seventy-six years of service were noted as Conference members recognized retirees. Those to be commissioned, ordained, and those certified were recognized, as well as Board of Ordained Ministry members on the Conference and District level.

Conference Lay Leader Dr. Scott Johnson brought a challenging message to the laity. "Who might we be if truly connected," Dr. Johnson asked. "So as you consider what might be possible, if we can revitalize the connection, if we could make it really about Christ."

Conference Council on Youth Ministry members shared an enthusiastic report, sharing many plans and activities with their counterparts throughout Upper New York, noting that, as always, they are leading the way. "Looking forward, I can say with full confidence that youth ministry is stronger than ever," Ian Urriola, CCYM president, said. "With a heavy heart, we had to say good bye to our friends from Vermont and Pennsylvania as they join new CCYMs. But it is with eager excitement that I can say to you, that the four CCYMs are a thing of the past. There is no more Troy CCYM. There is no more North Central New York CCYM. There is no more Wyoming CCYM. There is no more Western New York CCYM. There is only the Upper New York CCYM, and we look forward to working with the new conference."

Denman Awards for Evangelism were presented to the Rev. Paul Gongloff of Covenant UMC, Rochester, and Marvin and Lisa Ohlson of Clarence UMC.

"Just a Closer Walk with Thee" played by the Genesee Valley Brass opened the Covenant Council Report. Conference members rose to their feet and clapped as the brass group moved into upbeat version "This is my Father's World" filled the sanctuary following scripture noting that we sow and others may reap. Various voices from the Covenant Council shared Scripture and images of planting and sowing as we look to a new time in a new Conference.

"When the Saints go Marching Home" filled the sanctuary as all left the sanctuary for lunch and received gifts of seeds to plant and remember what has been and to look forward to what will be.

Director of Transitional Ministries, the Rev. Deborah O'Connor Slater, lifted up the motions necessary to close the Western New York Annual Conference and move us into the soon to be created Upper New York Annual Conference.

"We have voted. It is done," the Rev. Natalie Hanson, Niagara Frontier District Superintendent, said in the prayer following those actions.

Membership stands at 53,780, down 1,252 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 19,228, down 442 Church school attendance stands at 6,272, down 411.

-Marylyn Kasperek, Director of Communications