2011 Central Texas Annual Conference
Central Texas Annual Conference
From the first moments of the opening worship service at First United Methodist Church, Waco, Texas, to the final "amen" of the sending forth three days later, the 145th meeting of the Central Texas Annual Conference was immersed in a spirit of transformation, leadership, renewal and growth. To put it simply, change is in the air for the 101-year-old conference. Its clergy and laity are energized and equipped to lead the changes necessary to go out enthusiastically and make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Bishop J. Michael Lowry, presiding over his third annual conference, welcomed the Rev. Adam Hamilton, senior pastor, Church of the Resurrection, Leawood, Kansas, as the conference's featured speaker. Hamilton challenged the conference to be leaders of change in the effort to reverse the decline in active membership within the United Methodist Church. He spoke passionately about going outside the walls of the local churches and reaching out proactively to those who are lost, lonely and left out.
Lowry cemented the conference's charge to be leaders of change during a rousing presentation at the service of ordination. He reminded those gathered that even though the Methodist movement has been faithful in serving up the love of Christ to the world, the struggle continues and we must continue diligently to offer the cup of salvation to a world dying of thirst.
The conference continues to welcome new places for new people to worship, welcoming four new congregations in 2010. While First United Methodist Church, Robinson (parent church, First UMC, Waco), and St. James United Methodist Church, Killeen (parent church, St. James UMC, Temple), are new start-ups, two other new churches are growing nicely. Life Point United Methodist Church, Haslet (a merger of Life Point and Crossroads UMCs) has an average attendance of more than 200, up from 130 combined in 2009. Wesley United Methodist Church, a Ghanaian community of faith, has averaged around 100 in its first four months.
While the conference continues its strong support of Imagine No Malaria, Glen Lake Camp and Retreat Center was chosen as the recipient of this year's annual conference offering. The original $25,000 goal for the camp was shattered as the members donated $36,823. The camp works to transform the lives of more than 18,000 children, youth and families each year. The generosity of those gathered did not stop there, however, as conference delegates offered another $3,266 for UMCOR's spring storm disaster-relief fund during special lunchtime offerings.
The business conducted on behalf of the conference was infused with the spirit of transformation. The body officially adopted and launched The Exodus Project, a transformational roadmap designed to streamline and refocus the conference on our five core values of evangelism, Wesleyan tradition, spiritual growth, mission and inclusiveness while keeping the needs of the local churches at the center of the decision chain.
The Exodus Project brings such changes as:
Restructuring the conference's districts to five geographic-based districts and one conference-wide district focused on the needs of new charges/churches;
Formation of three new conference centers (evangelism and church growth, leadership, mission support);
Renewed focus on mentoring, coaching and modeling transformational leadership from the district superintendents; and
- The reported $745,000 savings to the conference's bottom line.
To learn more about The Exodus Project, visit www.ctcumc.org.
Much of the conference business surrounded the election of delegates to the 2012 General and Jurisdictional conferences. Those elected as lay delegates to General Conference include: Tom Harkrider, Fort Worth; Steve McIver, Ferris; Ethan Gregory, Mineral Wells; Kim Simpson, Arlington; Ed Komandosky, Taylor; and Carolyn Stephens, Benbrook. The 2012 General Conference clergy delegates are Mike McKee, Hurst; Tim Bruster, Fort Worth; Mary Spradlin, Arlington; Brenda Wier, Gordon; John McKellar, Southlake; and Debra Crumpton, Georgetown.
The lay delegates elected to Jurisdictional Conference are Paula Whitbeck, Georgetown; Cynthia Rives, Stephenville; Mary Percifield, Alvarado; Darcy Deupree, Fort Worth; Joan Gaspard, Hurst; and Corliss McBride, Waco. Clergy delegates elected to Jurisdictional Conference include: Tom Robbins Jr., Temple; Clifton Howard, Arlington; Chris Hayes, Keller; Jeannie Trevino Teddlie, Fort Worth; Paul Gravley, Hutto; and Jerry Chism, Bedford.
The conference also elected four alternates to the conferences. Lay alternates are Darlene Alfred, Salado; Edith Jones, Fort Worth; Joseph Boatman, Mansfield; and Gayland Daugherty, Comanche. Those elected as alternate delegates from the clergy include: Randy Wild, Arlington; Karen Greenwaldt, Fort Worth; Lara Whitley, Joshua; and Mike Ramsdell, Mansfield.
Bishop Lowry ordained 13 elders and two deacons in full connection, commissioned five into the ministry of elder or deacon and received one for associate membership. The average age of this year's class was 39. The conference has sustained more than three decades of growth, and 2010 was no exception. Membership stands at 166,180, an increase of 1,261 from the previous year. Attendance for the year across the conference was up slightly as average worship attendance stands at 46,920, up 764 persons, and church school attendance at 22,313,up 308.
--Vance Morton, director of communications and IT, Central Texas Conference