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2011 North Texas Annual Conference

North Texas Annual Conference
June 5-7, Plano Convention Center

Bishop W. Earl Bledsoe presided.

The opening worship was held at First United Methodist Church, Dallas, and Bishop John Innis of Liberia preached an inspiring word. This service was made even more uplifting by numerous local church donations to Imagine No More Malaria.

On the evening of June 6, the ordination services were held at Christ United Methodist Church, Plano. Four were commissioned for the work of deacon, three commissioned for the work of elder, three ordained as deacon and 14 ordained as elder.

The Rev. Morris Matthis, Christ United Methodist Church, Sugarland, Texas (Texas Annual Conference), preached an empowering word. The Rev. Milton Peter Guttierrez, a North Central District superintendent and dean of the cabinet, preached at the memorial service.

Delegates used high-tech, hand-held voting machines this year. This facilitated the voting process and went very smoothly. There were two history-making elections. The Rev. Donald J. Underwood will lead the clergy delegation for the third time. Ricky Harrison, a 19-year-old college student, will lead the lay delegation. He is the youngest person to do so.

The 2012 delegates are listed below in order of election.

Clergy General Conference: Don Underwood, Jan Davis, Gary Mueller and Clayton Oliphint (equal votes), Ron Henderson and Jill Jackson-Sears.
Clergy - Jurisdictional: Owen Ross, Tyrone Gordon, Lisa Greenwood, John Allen, Andrew Stoker and Dana Coker.
Clergy Alternates: Timothy Morrison, Deborah Chapman and Ouida Lee.
Laity General Conference: Ricky Harrison, Tim Crouch, Richard Hearne, Mary Brooke Casad, Henry Lessner and Kay Yeager.
Laity Jurisdictional: Frank Jackson, Natasha Ray, Linda Parks, Scott Smith, Lisa Tichenor and Billy Ratcliff.
Laity Alternates: Gretchen Toler-Debus, Ruth Robinson and Alys Richards.
The conference will send a number of petitions to the Tampa 2012 General Conference. Some of them are:

  • Required Theological Coursework for Commissioning and Provisional Membership, BOD para 324. Amend to include courses on pastoral/church leadership and preaching. This clarifies the courses candidates must complete prior to being approved for provisional membership.

  • Who is to answer Wesley's Historic Question for the Examiners, BOD para 311.1.d. Amended because the 2008 Discipline requires candidates to answer questions that Wesley intended for examiners.

  • Retired Local Pastors' Clergy Status, BOD para 324, 320.6 and 320.5 Amended to extend voting privileges to retired local pastors and include them in the membership of clergy.

  • Requirements for Admission to Full Connection and Ordination as a Deacon, BOD para 330.4 and 330.5. Amended to differentiate more clearly the examination for commissioning and provisional membership from the examination for ordination as a deacon and full membership.

  • Requirements for Admission to Full Connection and Ordination as an Elder, BOD para 335. Amend to differentiate clearly the examination for commissioning and provisional membership from the examination for ordination as elder and full membership.

In legislative actions, the conference voted to support the Gulfside Assembly in Waveland, Miss. Devastated by Hurricane Katrina, the assembly is rebuilding and reinventing itself as a learning/teaching site for all races. A new Gulfside Ministry Center is being built. The center will focus on a number of areas, such as poverty elimination, race reconciliation and leadership development. The conference celebrates the building of the Gulfside Ministry Center and supports it with $1 million through gifts from churches in the conference.

The conference approved adoption of the Wesley Foundation at Southern Methodist University as a conference campus ministry, effective Jan. 1, 2012. Currently, the SMU Wesley Foundation is supported by the South Central Jurisdiction. (The SMU Wesley Foundation director will present this adoption at the South Central Jurisdiction Mission Council meeting in September 2011.)

Funding from the South Central Jurisdiction will continue through 2015, with a gradual reduction, and ending in 2016. This adoption will not require additional apportionment funds; rather the Center for Leadership Development will realign its resources designated to campus ministry.

On June 8, more than 100 delegates, in addition to the bishop and his cabinet, fanned out across North Texas for the annual conference Mission Education Day. They took part in projects that included building ramps for persons who are mobility challenged and working in community gardens.

Membership stands at 150,859, down by 5.2 percent; however, 6,866 persons were removed from membership rolls by charge conference action in 2010. Worship attendance stands at 60,000, a 1.0 percent increase. Sunday school attendance stands at 29,807, a decrease of 5.2 percent.

--Sheron C. Patterson (