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2011 West Virginia Annual Conference

West Virginia Annual Conference Summary 2011

The 43rd session of the West Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church took place June 8-11 at West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon, W.Va.

The theme, "I Will be Your Witness: Purpose" was the third in a four year series designed to emphasize evangelism. More than 1,000 lay and clergy members represented Over 1,100 churches.
Members voted to designate "Disciples who Make Disciples Evangelism" as the 2012-2016 Quadrennial emphasis of the Annual Conference.

Digital communications, including live streaming, allowed people throughout the Conference to watch business sessions and worship services. The Conference website, had more than 1,100 unique visits during the conference; the Flickr feed had nearly 9,000 views.

Retired Bishop William Boyd Grove presided over the 2011 annual conference session, stepping in for resident Bishop Ernest S. Lyght, who has been recovering from pneumonia and related health complications this spring. Bishop Lyght was admitted to St. Joseph's Hospital in Buckhannon on June 8, 2011 and has been discharged. He continues to rest at home.

Bishop Grove's relationship with the West Virginia annual conference is a long one. He served as resident bishop for the West Virginia conference from 1980 - 1992 and returned after retiring in 1996 to live in the state. He is bishop-in-residence at Christ Church United Methodist in Charleston, W. Va.

"I am sorry that my brother, Bishop Lyght's illness is what precipitated this," said Grove as he ended the 2011 session on June 11, "but words cannot express what these days with you have meant to me."

Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, Resident Bishop of the Los Angeles Episcopal Area, preached the annual memorial service, where 41 clergy and clergy spouses were remembered for their lives of service to the church. She also preached at a morning prayer and praise service and the ordination service.

The Rev. Tyrone Gordon, who leads St. Luke's Community United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas, preached the Saturday afternoon Pentecost Vigil service. The Rev. Gordon reminded those in attendance that, "You don't need permission to do the Great Commission."

The Conference elected delegates to next year's General and Jurisdictional Conferences.
The clergy delegation to General Conference 2012 in Tampa, FL (in order of election): the Rev. Dr. Ellis Conley, Fairmont, W.Va.; the Rev. Mary Ellen Finegan, Fairmont, W.Va.; the Rev. Dr. Ken Ramsey, Buckhannon, W.Va.; the Rev. Mark Flynn, Lewisburg, W.Va. and the Rev. Dr. Ed Grant, Charleston, W.Va.

The lay delegation to General Conference 2012: Judi Kenaston, Lewisburg, W.Va.; Jim Berner, Scott Depot W.Va.; Judy Nutter, St. Marys, W.Va.; Pat Mick, Hinton, W.Va. and Fred Kellerman, Frankford, W.Va.

Both groups will also serve as delegates to the Northeast Jurisdictional Conference (NEJ 2012) in Charleston, W. Va., next year. Following conference tradition of alternating clergy and lay leadership, the Rev. Dr. Ellis Conley will lead the delegation.

The conference elected five additional lay and clergy members to be delegates to NEJ 2012. Clergy elected were: the Rev. Janet Harman, and the Rev. J. Montgomery Brown, Charleston, W.Va.; the Rev. Amy Shanholtzer, Winfield, W.Va.; the Rev. Dr. Ravi Isaiah, St. Albans, W.Va.; and the Rev. Aslam Barkat, Fairmont, W.Va. Laity elected were Royce Lyden, Fairmont, W.Va.; R. Zachary Allen, Wheeling, W.Va.; Connor Kenaston, Lewisburg, W.Va.; Gayle Lesure, Clarksburg, W.Va. and Jeffrey Taylor, Huntington, W.Va.

Alternates to NEJ 2012 are: (Clergy) the Rev. Dr. Mark Connor, Huntington, W.Va. and the Rev. Dr. Kenneth Krimmel, Parkersburg, W.Va. and (Lay) Betty Bailey, St. Marys, W.Va. and Scarlett Kellerman, Frankford, W.Va.

Two deacons and eight elders were ordained; their average age was 44. Two deacons and six elders were commissioned as provisional members. The Conference also recognized one associate member. Eighteen pastors retired.

At the end of 2010, membership stands at 99,958, down 1,370 from 2009. Worship attendance stands at 45,409, down 2,233. Church school attendance stands at 23,307, down 690.

Submitted by Laura Harbert Allen, Director of Communications.