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2011 Arkansas Annual Conference

Arkansas Annual Conference
June 5-8, 2011, Hot Springs

During its ninth session, the Arkansas Annual Conference ordained new clergy, elected General and jurisdictional conference delegates, and adopted proposals from the Imagine Ministry team.

Eleven people with an average age of 42.7 were ordained at the evening worship service on June 7. Cynthia Shaw Henry and Dawn Marie Spragg were ordained as deacons, and Gail Cole Baldwin, Candace Barron, Danyelle Ella-Marie Ditmer, Kirk Doering, David Duane Hoffman, Lynn Cross Kilbourne, Nathan Kilbourne, Brittany Stanton Richardson Watson and Vida Rhee Williams were ordained as elders.

In business sessions, the conference approved all four motions proposed by the Imagine Ministry team, which presented the results of its two-year discernment process that led to a plan for implementing "deep change" in United Methodist congregations of Arkansas.

Members approved adopting new vision and mission statements for the conference, as well as four new "core measures" for revitalizing the connection: rooting actions in Scripture and personal and social holiness; establishing the mission field as the primary place for attention and resources; equipping laity and clergy for shared outcomes of transformation with excellence; and organizing ministry around the unique geographic, cultural, demographic and ethnic contexts in the identified mission fields.

Other motions presented by the Imagine Ministry team and approved by the Arkansas Conference included reducing the number of districts from nine to five, effective at the 2012 annual conference; simplifying the organizational structure; and appointing a team to arrange for transitioning to the new structure.

As a result of the Imagine Ministry changes, the 2012 budget was tabled until Oct. 29, when a special called session of the annual conference will gather in Hot Springs. The body also referred to the called session a motion to set district superintendents' salaries at no more than 120 percent of the average full-time elder salary.

The Council on Finance and Administration proposed a change in the apportionment formula, which would include in the calculations each congregation's average worship attendance. The body amended the proposal to keep the current apportionment formula for one more year, giving CFA the opportunity to take into account the new Imagine Ministry "core measures," revisit the formula and make a new proposal to the 2012 annual conference.

A resolution titled "Care and Protection of God's Creation Near Gas Extraction Sites" passed by a vote of 339-269. The resolution urges Congress to repeal the 2005 federal law that exempted the process of hydraulic fracturing (commonly called "fracking") from accountability to the Clean Water Act.

None of the resolutions proposing petitions to General Conference passed. Proposed petitions dealt with deleting from the Book of Discipline statements related to homosexuality, and holding General Conference only in states or municipalities that do not approve of the death penalty.

Lay delegates elected to General Conference are Asa Whitaker of Batesville (head of delegation); Sarah Steele of Mountain Home; Karon Mann of Little Rock; Clefton Vaughan of Little Rock; Carole Teague of Conway; and Karen Millar of Searcy.

Clergy delegates elected to General Conference are Rodney Steele of Mountain Home; Rebekah Miles of Fort Worth, Texas; Ronnie Miller-Yow of Little Rock; Mackey Yokem of Fayetteville; Susan Ledbetter of Bentonville; and John Miles II of Jonesboro.

Lay delegates elected to the South Central Jurisdictional Conference are Deborah Bell of Little Rock; Todd Burris of Conway; Jay Clark of Little Rock; Sandy Smith of Russellville; Brian Swain of Fayetteville; and John Crawford of Little Rock.

Clergy delegates elected to jurisdictional conference are C.E. McAdoo of Texarkana; Michael Roberts of North Little Rock; Roy Smith of Russellville; Aubrietta Jones of Cabot; Kurt Boggan of Jonesboro; and Wes Hilliard of Van Buren.

Reserve lay delegates to jurisdictional conference are Brenda Norwood of Little Rock; Brandon Bates of North Little Rock; and Natalie Clark of Conway. Reserve clergy delegates are Andrew Thompson of Memphis, Tenn.; David Bush of Stuttgart; and Pamela Estes of Pine Bluff.

Membership stands at 135,682, down 0.4 percent from 2009, when it stood at 136,223. Worship attendance stands at 54,008, down less than 1 percent from 2009, when it was reported at 54,529.

Church school attendance stands at 23,420, up 6.8 percent from the reported 2009 figure of 21,918.

-Amy Forbus, editor, The Arkansas United Methodist