2011 Wisconsin Annual Conference
The Wisconsin Annual Conference UMC took place at the Chula Vista Conference Center in the Wisconsin Dells June 12 -15, featuring the theme "Love Unconditionally," which was woven throughout the four days of activities. The conference highlighted groups who show God's unconditional love to people in their local communities and around the world. These ministries include Northcott Neighborhood House, the United Methodist Volunteers in Mission and the Hunger Task Force. Conference attendees gave lovingly, amassing a number of Ingathering items, including 2,458 health kits, 887 school bags, 551 school kits, 440 cleaning buckets, $8,052 in funds and more, as well as $9,965 in offerings. The year 2010 was also the 20th year in a row that the Wisconsin Conference UMC paid 100 percent of our General Conference apportionments.
The "Love Unconditionally" theme was featured in several sermons during annual conference. In her sermon, Bishop Linda Lee spoke of love as the connecting fiber that brings people together and breaks down barriers of race, economic status, culture and differing viewpoints. "Every human being is worthy of love," she said. "We need each other for the human race to survive, to live, to thrive." She noted the challenges in the Wisconsin Conference and The United Methodist Church, as well as those that all human beings are experiencing, but said that love will help us overcome those challenges. Bruce Burnside, Bishop of the South-Central Synod of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), also spoke about breaking down the barriers people put up against each other. He shared several stories, including a humorous one about his fussy mother who disapproved of a meat loaf recipe from a United Methodist cookbook, and formed her opinion of the Church from that.
Sheri Graeber, a lay leader from Algoma Boulevard UMC in Oshkosh, a member of the Wisconsin Board of Ordained Ministry, and a Licensed Clinic Social Worker, Substance Abuse Counselor and Independent Clinical Supervisor working in the addictions field, spoke about how love is something that you do. "Love is a verb, it's not just words," she said. She continued on to say that United Methodists are called to "make a move" to show the world God's love for us, our love for God and our love for each other.
The Harry Denman award, which recognizes excellence in evangelism, was given to Lake Lucerne and Pine Lake camps. Clergy were honored for their years of service, and retiring clergy and their spouses shared stories and memories. The conference also welcomed delegates from the Dong Bu Conference in South Korea to honor the sister partnership between the two conferences. The delegates gave a cultural presentation, which included an exchange of gifts; a slide show of Korea's history, present society, and future goals; and an interpretive dance routine and choral arrangement by the pastors' wives.
Several conference action items were voted on for implementation in 2011. Most were passed-some with minor amendments. The approved items included petitions to the 2012 General Conference, resolutions to speak out about health care and collective bargaining rights, support for the "20/20:Visioning an AIDS-Free World" campaign and the closing of University UMC and Waldwick UMC. The approved petitions included Marriage Equality, Removal of Discriminatory Language about Homosexuality, Longer Tenure Appointments, Stewardship Emphasis at Annual Conference Level and more.
The Wisconsin Conference also elected delegates to General Conference and North Central Jurisdictional Conference. Lay delegates elected to General Conference were: Lisa King (head), Dorthy Radley and William Stimeling. Clergy delegates were: Dan Dick, Amanda M.D. Stein and Steve Zekoff. Jurisdictional Conference lay delegates were: Judy Vasby, Diane Odeen and Chris Reynolds. Clergy delegates were: Steve Polster, Jeremy Deaner and Sam Royappa. Lay alternates were: Gail Burgess, John Lawson, Tom Popp and Jennifer Southworth. Clergy alternates were: Dan Schwerin, Carrie Kreps Wegenast, Jorge Mayorga Solis and Jennifer Arneson.
Bishop Lee ordained seven elders. One elder from another denomination was accepted as a provisional member. Four persons were commissioned as provisional members. One person was elected as an associate member. Eight persons were licensed as local pastors.
Submitted by Michele Virnig, Director of Communications and Katelin Hillbo, Communications Administrative Assistant