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2012 Iowa Annual Conference

Iowa Annual Conference
June 2-5, Des Moines, Iowa

The Iowa Annual Conference gathered for its 169th assembly June 2-5, 2012, at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines. During the course of the four-day gathering nearly $80,000 was raised for missions and ministry, collected 1,924 pairs of glasses for continuing eye care in Nigeria and 105 gallons of pull tabs to support the Ronald McDonald House and packaged 30,000 meals to alleviate hunger in Rwanda. The conference heard from Moses Kumar, the top executive of the General Council on Finance and Administration, who recognized the conference for three consecutive years of 100 percent of payment to the general church apportionments and yet another year of oversubscribing support to Africa University.

Bishop Julius Calvin Trimble presided over a conference session that was "as paperless as possible," with more than half of the nearly 1,700 clergy and lay members utilizing electronic devices to read the pre-conference manual and other documents. The conference voted to continue to reduce its carbon footprint and provide documents electronically.

In his sermon for the opening worship service, Bishop Trimble said, "We can't vote our way into our Kingdom potential&ellipsis; Gay or straight, wealthy or poor, we can give ourselves away so Christ can use us, bruised or broken&ellipsis; to love enough to lift someone who is down and we pray enough to turn our Church around and face the world outside our doors."

In the Service for Ordering of Ministry, one person was recognized as an associate member, three were commissioned as deacons, 10 were commissioned for the work of an elder, one was ordained as a deacon, 12 were ordained as elders, and one was received by transfer of membership. Bishop Gregory Vaughn Palmer, Illinois Great Rivers episcopal leader and former Iowa bishop, was the preacher.

Following a report on the 2012 General Conference, two moments of personal privilege expressed the concern of many that the actions of the 2012 General Conference of The United Methodist Church ran contrary to John Wesley's first General Rule, "do no harm." More than 500 members of the conference have signed the "Do No Harm" covenant, and more than 70 clergy are among lay and clergy signers of a related "Covenant of Conscience."

Ten teaching sessions were offered at two separate times. The Monday morning session began with a Healing Service that invited conference members to rethink "who you are, building new relationships, and celebrating progress and recovery." The Rev. Anne Lippincott was the preacher for the Memorial Service that celebrated the lives of 20 clergy and 23 clergy spouses.

The Rev. Ted Lyddon Hatten, conference artist, who was also a member of the General Conference worship team, asked, "What does a transformed world look like?" In response he said, "I don't know, but I see room&ellipsis;I see lots of open space&ellipsis;room for our brokenness&ellipsis;room for our disagreement&ellipsis;room for our wholeness. There is room for conversation about the world we live in and about God's claim on our shared lives&ellipsis;"

The Episcopal Address and Ministry Cabinet Report focused on the Healthy Church Initiative and emerging New Places for New People. In her Lay Leader's Address, Norma Morrison asked Conference members to consider "What has God called you to do? Where is your journey taking you? What have you learned?"

The Rev. Charles Smith was the preacher for the Retirement Celebration. Retiring, himself, after 16 years as conference treasurer/director of administrative services, he said, on behalf of the class of 27 retirees, "Life is always beginnings&ellipsis; Forever beginnings - that is the story of life, and I thank the Lord that we each have an opportunity to begin again with the assurance that the Spirit of God's great love goes with us."

The episcopacy committee thanked Bishop and Mrs. Trimble for their leadership during the quadrennium. Bishop and Mrs. Trimble concluded with a prayer for the conference and for the people of Iowa's United Methodist faith communities.

The superintendents of the conference's eight districts announced new clergy appointments. Bishop Trimble introduced the two new conference superintendents - Rev. Tom Carver, who will serve the Northwest District, and the Rev. Lilian Gallo Seagren who has been assigned to the Southeast District.

Todd Weber was elected conference treasurer/director of administrative services/conference statistician, succeeding the Rev. Charles Smith who retires July 1, 2012.

Bishop Trimble presented Mrs. Fern Underwood with the Bishop James Thomas Leadership Award.

The members of the Iowa Annual Conference approved a budget for 2013 with a 0.32 percent increase. General church apportionments decrease by 2.7 percent; conference ministries increase by 1.3 percent; and conference missions remains essentially the same. The grand total amount: $15, 674,805.

Statistics: 2011 average worship attendance: 55,790, a decrease of 770 from 2010; 2011 membership: 175,487, a decrease of 4,124 members; 249 congregations reported an increase in membership; 406 decreased; 139 reported no change; 794 congregations at the close of 2011.

- The Rev. Arthur McClanahan, director of communications