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2011 Mississippi Annual Conference

Mississippi Annual Conference Report
June 10-12, 2011, Jackson, Miss.

Nearly 2,500 members and visitors gathered at the Jackson Convention Complex to hear witness and celebrate evangelism and mission throughout the conference, surrounded by the signs of ways their churches were going forth to transform the world.

"We celebrated the ministries we support together through our Mission Shares: camps, colleges, campus ministry, youth ministry, community centers, new churches," said Bishop Hope Morgan Ward.

"We embraced a conference budget for ministry in 2012. We engaged in debate on 31 resolutions. We set apart a stage full of persons for licensed, commissioned and ordained ministry. The Triune God is with us as we move into this new conference year. Arise, shine, go!"

Three people shared their witness as the Church for All People Band lead in praise and worship. Presenters included the Rev. Jorge Acevedo, Grace United Methodist Church in the Florida Conference; Dana Robert, professor of the history of mission, Boston University School of Theology; and the Rev. John Edgar, The Church for All People in the West Ohio Conference

Members celebrated our ministry together with Stop Hunger Now. Since 1998, Mississippi has packaged more than 3 million meals for the non-profit agency. This was celebrated by packaging another 100,000 meals during conference.

In addition, close to $150,000 was received in offerings for mission and ministry to the conference as follows: New Places for New People - $70,503.85; 2011 Spring Storms - $56,355; Ministerial Education Fund - $6,380.37; and Professional Health Network - $7,786.82. Members approved mission shares (budget) of $15.5 million for 2012, less than one-fourth of 1 percent increase over $15,456,722 of 2011.

Because of the 2012 General Conference, this year's agenda was stacked with resolutions to petition the general church on matters ranging from doctrine to affiliation and interaction with other institutions. More than 31 resolutions were presented.

Two resolutions were approved with no debate. One asked members to continue praying for the Mississippi Annual Conference; the other sought "a catholic spirit in resolutions."

Debate began in earnest as a resolution regarding the United Methodist Church's relationship with Claremont School of Theology came before the conference. The resolution advised severing ties with the United Methodist seminary based on its participation in a consortium of institutions training leaders in Abrahamic faith traditions. The resolution committee did not recommend concurrence with the resolution. In debate, voices were raised in support of interfaith dialogue, and the deep commonalities between the three Abrahamic traditions. In the end, a standing vote was counted, and the resolution passed. Read summary of resolutions and action

The Rev. Bill McAlilly will lead the conference delegation. Lay delegates elected to General Conference include Turner Arant, Sunflower; Timothy Crisler, Raymond; Martha Scarborough, Brandon; David Beckley, Holly Springs; David Stotts, Madison; Anne Harrington, Houston; and Elizabeth Cumbest, Moss Point.

Clergy delegates are the Revs. Bill McAlilly, Gulfport; Mattie Gibson, Greenwood; Joe May, Jackson; Connie Shelton, Jackson; Lisa Garvin, Jackson; Mike Childs, Louisville; and Ricky James, Jackson.

Lay delegates elected to Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference include Bill Smallwood, New Albany; Mary Ford, Quitman; William D. Scott III, Holly Springs; Connie Walters, Philadelphia; Lydia Smith, Tupelo; Dora Washington, Jackson; and Jack Ramsey, Hattiesburg. Alternates are Stephen McAlilly, Tupelo; Elmo Gabbert, Meadville; and Patricia Battle, Meridian.

Clergy delegates are the Revs. Andy Ray, Senatobia; Bob Rambo, Meridian; Embra Jackson, Starkville; Bill Beavers, Southaven; Warren Black, Oxford; Vicki White, Jackson; and Stephen Sparks. Alternates are the Revs. Ginger Holland, Tupelo; Allison Dickerson, Brandon; and Tommy Artmann, Hattiesburg.

Conference closed as we honored the ministry of 21 retiring clergy, licensed 10 people for pastoral ministry, commissioned 14 as provisional members, and ordained 23 elders as well as did a courtesy ordination for the Iglesia Evangelica Methodista de Nicaragua. The average age of this class of ordinands was 41.

Membership stands at 181,795, down 609 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 72,511, down 56. Church school attendance stands at 33,382, down 1,244.

--Lisa Cumbest Michiels, Director of Communications