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2011 Iowa Annual Conference

2011 Iowa Annual Conference

Gathering under the banner of "Radical Hospitality of Justice," the 168th session of the Iowa Annual Conference convened from June 4-7, 2011. Meeting for the second year in Des Moines' Hy-Vee Hall, the assembly of some 1,800 clergy and lay representatives of Iowa's nearly 180,000 United Methodists celebrated, remembered, looked to the future, listened and learned, engaged in Holy Conferencing, shared in mission projects and elected delegates to the denomination's 2012 general and jurisdictional conferences.

"We have a story so compelling that it must be told," Bishop Julius Calvin Trimble declared in his episcopal address to the 2011 Iowa Annual Conference session."We have a mandate so clear that it must be told...an invitation so strong that it must be pursued." Asking the question, "What does faithful discipleship look like in our time?" he described the four areas of focus of the Council of Bishops."My challenge is that we go deeper and walk together attempting great things...we can change if we walk together, staying focused on things that matter most, caring for ourselves as we care for others, invest in new communities of faith and tell the stories of Jesus."

Dr. Mike Slaughter, lead pastor of Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church, spoke to the conference three times during the first day. During the opening sermon, he spoke about a mandate for mission.Some see themselves as consumers, to receive the "products" of the church.He suggested, instead, that Jesus can do something different, something better. He called the church to go back to being a movement, which may mean that there will be more, smaller churches in the future with its members being disciples who bring the sacrificial hands and feet of Jesus into the world.

The Service of the Ordering of Ministry continued the tradition of The United Methodist Church through the recognition, commissioning and ordaining of people into ministry.Thirty-seven people were charged by Philadelphia Area Bishop Peggy Johnson to live and serve out of love for Christ... "When we show compassion in Christ's name," she said, "our churches grow...people want to know about Jesus and discover him in our compassionate care."To those being ordained she urged, "hospitality, acceptance, kindness and love...may these be the characteristics of your ministry."

The memorial service celebrated the lives of clergy, clergy spouses and diaconal ministers who have died in the past year. Twenty-one clergy, 19 clergy spouses and two diaconal ministers were remembered as their families gathered with the conference for the service. The memorial service also included a special time of remembrance and thanksgiving for the late Bishop James S. Thomas who died in October 2010. Bishop Thomas was Iowa's Bishop from 1964-1976. Rev. Robert Crandall received the first Bishop James S. Thomas Leadership Award during the memorial service. Present to see the inaugural award given in her late husband's honor was Mrs. Ruth Thomas.

Collegiate United Methodist Church received The Foundation for Evangelism's 2011 Culture of the Call Church Award on June 5, 2011. The Ames congregation was recognized for its outstanding record for helping young people affiliated with the church to answer the call to fulltime Christian service. In the last 15 years, Collegiate has nurtured 21 young people as they answered God's call on their lives.

The General Conference delegation, lay delegates: Phil Carver, Norma Morrison, Joel Carver, Kae Tritle, Craig Scott, Darcy Rubenking and Jessica Ireland. Clergy delegates: Brian Milford, David Weesner, Barrie Tritle, Diane Wasson Eberhart, Christina Sung, Lillian Gallo Seagren and Denny Coon.

Jurisdictional Conference delegation,lay delegates: Sarah Kitterman Stevens, Barbara Oakland, Lisa Larson, Greg Shine, Tyler Schwaller, West Steel and June Goldman.Clergy delegates: Karen Nichols Dungan, Katie Dawson, J. Robert Burkhart, Mike Morgan, Alexis Williams, George White and Sean McRoberts.

Alternates, Laity: Mary Morris, Marcia Young, Dorothy Higdon, Christine J. Anders, Noreen F. Kahler-Miller and Olivia Pleggenkuhle.Clergy: Craig Peters, Tom Carver, James Parks, Mary Fraser, Jerry Oakland and Enna Antunez.

Thirteen proposed petitions to the 2012 General Conference were discussed; four were approved. Those passed include: an expression of support for ex-felons to recover their voting rights; encouragement for congregations to evaluate their carbon footprint; amending paragraph 161F of the Book of Discipline to remove language stating that "The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching"; and remove the prohibition of "self-avowed practicing homosexuals" from being certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church."

Special offerings raised $25,550.53.

The conference budget for 2012 will be: $15,624,566, a 1.97 percent decrease from $15,938,274 approved for 2011.

Average worship attendance in 2010 was 58,212, which is a decrease of 1,003 from the prior year.Conference membership is 179,765, a decrease of 3,492 from 2009.

-Arthur McClanahan, director of communications, Iowa Annual Conference