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2011 Detroit Annual Conference

Detroit Annual Conference
May 19-22, 2011, Adrian (Mich.) College

"When Did We See You, Lord?" was the theme of the 2011 session of the Detroit Annual Conference. During the four-day session, the conference elected a 20-person delegation that will attend the 2012 General and North Central Jurisdictional conferences. The conference will send four clergy and four lay delegates to the 2012 General Conference.

Lay delegates elected to the 2012 General Conference: Jacqueline Euper, chair of delegation, Morrice, Mich.; Angela Hart, Detroit; Wayne Bank, Lexington, Mich.; and Paul Thomas, Kingsford, Mich. Clergy delegates: the Rev. Joy Barrett, vice chair of delegation, Chelsea, Mich.; the Rev. Melanie Carey, Ypsilanti, Mich.; the Rev. Charles Boayue, Detroit; and the Rev. Ed Rowe, Detroit.

Lay delegates elected to the 2012 North Central Jurisdictional Conference: Linda A. Schramm, Sandusky, Mich.; Diane Brown, Ann Arbor, Mich.; Ruby Anderson, Southfield, Mich.; Lee Donley, Oxford, Mich.; Kenneth Kneisel, alternate, Northville, Mich.; and Don Archambeau, alternate, Livonia, Mich. Clergy delegates: the Rev. Sherry Parker, Brighton, Mich.; the Rev. James Tuttle, Saline, Mich.; the Rev. Marsha Woolley, Livonia, Mich.; the Rev. J.D. Landis, Swartz Creek, Mich.; the Rev. Tara Sutton, alternate, Flint, Mich.; and the Rev. Steve McCoy, alternate, Marquette, Mich.

The theme of the conference session focused on ministry with the poor, one of denomination's Four Areas of Focus. Guest preacher Phoenix Area Bishop Minerva Carcaño spoke on Matthew 25:31-46 during a morning worship service and led a Bible study on immigration issues. Michigan Area Bishop Jonathan D. Keaton talked about "Bethlehem Revisited" as he opened the 43rd annual session during a worship service that featured The Ambassadors, a singing group of homeless men from Cass Community Social Services in Detroit. The Rev. Faith Fowler leads Cass Community Social Services, a ministry of Cass Community United Methodist Church, Detroit. She offered her reflections on ministry with the poor to the laity session as well as to the general plenary.

During the opening worship service, more than $33,500 was raised to distribute equally to Advance projects in Haiti and Liberia, where the conference has covenant relationships.

One of the most memorable moments of the session occurred when the conference was introduced to Jasmine Franco, a member of First United Methodist Church, Ypsilanti, Mich. Franco, whose parents were deported to Guatemala, was the subject of "Jasmine's Story," a feature produced by United Methodist Communications as part of a Rethink Church series. After hearing Franco's story, members of the conference responded by raising more than $2,500 to help Franco visit her parents in Guatemala.

The conference also contributed more than $3,800 during a spontaneous offering for the conference council on youth ministries' SPLASH initiative, which seeks to raise $500,000 for the construction of water wells.

Significant legislative action taken by the conference session included creating a New Church Development Table, which had been the responsibility of the conference's board of global ministries, and creating the positions of conference benefits officer and associate lay leader. A $9.6 million budget for 2012, which includes $2.4 million for pensions, was also approved.

The conference endorsed five petitions that will be submitted to the 2012 General Conference. The petitions asked the General Conference to:

  • Create a new resolution advocating for the end of the war in Afghanistan;
  • Amend paragraphs 613 and 806.9 of the Book of Discipline to change language to end funding of hate-based rhetoric;
  • Amend paragraph 162 of the Book of Discipline to add language regarding the rights of migrants to the Social Principles; and
  • Amend paragraph 161.f of the Book of Discipline to add language that reflects inclusiveness and the range of opinions among United Methodists regarding the practice of homosexuality.

Twenty-two retiring clergy were honored for their ministry during the conference session. The conference council on finance and administration also announced the retirement of Anna Morford, who has served as the conference's treasurer for 18 years

Jeremy P. Benton, C. Mondragon Borja, LuAnne L. Rourke, Dennis E. Irish, Bruce L. Nowacek, June M. Marshall Smith, and Kim D. Spencer were ordained as elders, while Catherine M. Freeman, Kathryn L. Pittenger, Suzanne K. Goodwin and Jeffrey R. Sturgeon were ordained as deacons. The average age of those ordained at this year's session is 46 years old.

Membership stands at 92,643, down 2,042 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 43,538, down 1,680. Church school attendance stands at 12,197, down 326.

--Paul Thomas, director of communications, Annual Detroit Conference