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2010 Wyoming Annual Conference

June 4-5, 2010, Scranton, Pa.

The 159th and final session of the Wyoming Annual Conference opened Friday, June 4, at the University of Scranton and Elm Park United Methodist Church in Scranton, Pa. Bishop Susan W. Hassinger called the gathering to order under the theme, "So Great a Cloud of Witnesses."

Most business conducted by the conference dealt with matters involved in preparing for the conference to be split along the New York-Pennsylvania border and to become part of two new conferences effective July 1 -- the Susquehanna Conference in Pennsylvania and the Upper New York Conference.

Four women were introduced as candidates for Provisional Membership. Patricia Cardin and Linda Clemow are on the deacon track and Maggie Moore and Nancy Stanley are on the elder track. Hassinger asked Wesley's historic questions of four candidates for the Order of Elders -- Jean Blackie, Martin P. Brooks, Nancy Hale and John Martin. Commissioning and ordination will take place in the Susquehanna Conference on June 12 or the Upper New York Conference on June 19.

The retirement of nine pastors -- Richard Breuninger, Cordella Brown, Barbara Green, Horace King, Chuck Naugle, Catherine Parsons, Alice Pedone, Bette Poe and Roger Richards -- was recognized during a special service on the first evening of the two-day session. That service also honored clergy, clergy spouses and lay members who had died in the previous year.

A number of clergy and laity were honored for the work they had done in a variety of areas.

Harry Denman Evangelism Awards were presented to David M. Burge, a layperson from Stewart Memorial United Methodist Church in Old Forge, Pa.; the Rev. Susan Shields, pastor of the Harpursville and Oquagua, N.Y. churches and Marissa Mach, a youth member of Nimmonsburg United Methodist Church in Binghamton, N.Y.

The Kim Jefferson Award for significant and effective urban ministry was presented to Field of Grace United Methodist Church and its pastor, the Rev. Marcelle Dotson. Field of Grace is a newly formed congregation in the city of Wilkes-Barre reaching out to people not served by other churches.

The Guy Leinthall Award for Social Justice Ministry was presented to Blenda Smith for her work in developing and offering educational opportunities in the area of white privilege and to the Rev. Mark Terwilliger and the Beach Lake, Pa., United Methodist Church for their work in the arena of environmental justice.

The Akers Award for Excellence in Rural Ministry was presented to the Rev. Alice Pedone, pastor of the five churches of the Equinunk Charge in northern Wayne County, Pa.

A report was made on special offerings taken during the session. The Master's Call Offering raised $2,311 to help provide funds for ministerial education. The Great 50 Days Offering brought in $22,120 for work in Haiti and Zimbabwe, which is in addition to more than $194,000 previously donated to Haiti Earthquake Relief.

The Episcopacy Committee offered thanks to Hassinger and to Jane E. Schweikert, administrative assistant to Bishops Hassinger, Susan Morrison and William Boyd Grove, for their service to the conference and the Albany Area.

The closing worship provided witness to the actions taken during the past several years to move toward God's new thing for the churches of the Wyoming Conference. Hassinger then charged those gathered to move out along separate paths, with those going to the Susquehanna Conference leaving the building by one set of doors and those going to the Upper New York Conference to leave by a different exit, but to come together again, outside, as members of The United Methodist Connection for the benediction.

--Don Perry, editor of the Wyoming Conference Voice.