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2011 North Carolina Annual Conference

Report from the North Carolina Annual Conference

The North Carolina Annual Conference met June 15-18 in Raleigh, N.C., using the theme "A Future with Hope: Leading to Christ." It was a time for resetting baselines for the purpose of refocusing on the mission of the Church, moving away from a preoccupation with money and placing more emphasis on bringing people into a relationship with Jesus Christ through vital congregations.

Following the practice in past conferences, all financial matters were presented together with a vote taken later in the conference.The financial impact for local churches remained the same as last year with a slight decrease in the overall budget.The approved conference budget of $20.3 million was $578 less than last year.For the eighth year, local churches will have no increase in their portion of health insurance for pastors.Individual participants in the health plan will receive changes in premiums and benefits for 2012, but they have a "buy-up" option to keep co-payments for prescriptions, doctor visits and deductibles the same as 2011. The rates for pension past service year and minimum salary remain the same as 2011, and district superintendents requested no increase in salary.

Fifty-four churches, recommended by districts from local church nominations, were recognized as Acts 2 churches, demonstrating health and vitality through radical hospitality, passionate worship, intentional spiritual formation, and risk-taking mission and ministry to the world.Other churches have received the recognition in previous years.

Ten new faith communities were recognized during the conference.In addition, 13 new communities have begun over the last five years.Of those 13, ten are continuing. They were cited as being "dynamic, high-impact faith communities reaching new, different and younger people and seeing lives transformed."Of the 10 new communities, five represent multi-site campuses of existing congregations.

Conference members approved the elimination of 12 districts and the creation of eight new districts.A task force on superintendence presented the recommendation. "The goal of the task force work is to better assist local congregations in their efforts to focus on the drivers of vitality and ministry action plans," said Bishop Al Gwinn.The change, estimated as having a $380,000 savings for the conference, will be effective with the 2012 conference after the bishop and Cabinet form the new district lines.

To help establish accurate membership and average worship attendance baselines for local churches, the bishop and Cabinet named 2011 as the "Year of Jubilee."This set a new baseline for local churches after wiping out statistical inaccuracies and a promise that each would maintain accurate records from this time forward.

Lay delegates elected to General Conference (all from North Carolina): Emily Innes (chairwoman), Wilmington; Christine Dodson, Clinton; Courtney Jennings, Clayton; Gary Locklear, Pembroke; Bill Norton, Raleigh; Duncan McMillan, Rocky Mount; Ann Davis, Grreenville;Mack Parker, Raleigh and LaNella Smith, Durham. Clergy delegates: Beth Hood (vice-chairwoman), Greenville;Gray Southern, Durham; Tim Russell, Clayton;Leonard Fairley, Laurinburg; Tim Reaves, White Oak; Patricia Archer (secretary), Wilmington; Carl Frazier, Cary; Bill Gattis, Burlington and Bob Bergland, Rocky Mount.

Lay Jurisdictional Conference delegates: Steve Taylor, Lumberton; Laura Little, Greenville; Beth Norris, Raleigh; CJ Pearce, Henderson; Tom Walden, Youngsville; Sam Isley, Raleigh; Eston C. Brinkley, Wilmington; Berry Merrill, Princeton and Fred Hight, Wilson.Clergy Jurisdictional delegates: Ben Williams, Raleigh; Edgardo Colon-Emeric, Durham; Carol Goehring, Raleigh; Sam Wynn, Fayetteville; Regina Henderson, Raleigh; Kevin Baker, Durham; David Banks, Pinehurst; Won Namkoong, West End and Greg Jenks, Holly Springs.

Alternates: Lay-Frank Brooks, Greenville; Katie Brinkley, Wilmington; Allen O. Morris, Fayetteville; Martha Bullock Caves, Roxboro and Gretchen Shea, Raleigh. Clergy-Jon Strother, Raleigh; Edgar De Jesus, Fayetteville; Marty Cauley, Rocky Mount; Gayle Felton, Rougemount and Paul Stallsworth, Morehead City.

In other matters:

Conference members packaged 90,000 meals for 76 countries served by Stop Hunger Now.

Bishop Hope Morgan Ward of the Mississippi conference and Dr. Timothy Tennent, president of Asbury Theological Seminary, were the conference preachers. Laurie Beth Jones, author, speaker, coach and trainer, taught two sessions on "Twelve Essential Dreams Every Leader Must Have" as part of the laity celebration.

The conference defeated resolutions to amend the Book of Discipline paragraph 161J on abortion and to withdraw The United Methodist Church from the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. The conference supported resolutions approving negotiation in the Middle East, effective and constructive peacemaking between Palestinians and Israelis through positive investment in Palestine and socio-economic and racial diversity in public schools.

Thirty clergy and spouses of clergy and Bishop Marion M. Edwards were remembered during a Memorial Service.

One person was commissioned as a Provisional Member, Deacon Track; 13 were commissioned as Provisional Members, Elder's Track; 17 candidates were ordained Elders in Full Connection; and one person was recognized and received into Associate Membership.

Membership stands at 232,154, down 5,341 from the previous year with Year of Jubilee adjustments. Worship attendance stands at 81,926, down 1,526.Church school attendance stands 36,414, down 886.

--Bill Norton, North Carolina Conference