2012 New York Annual Conference
New York Annual Conference Report
June 2-6, 2012, Hofstra University, Hempstead, N.Y.
Under the banner of a dove, the New York Conference celebrated its theme, "We are United Methodists Transforming the World," by kicking off its Imagine No Malaria campaign during its June 6-9 annual gathering at Hofstra University.
More than 1,300 children, youth and family members joined clergy and lay delegates on Saturday to hear a message of challenge from Bishop Sally Dyck of the Minnesota Conference, which has raised $2.5 million to fight malaria. Costumed Transformers, cheered on by the crowd, battled a child-sized mosquito with a giant can of bug spray and a huge swatter to no avail. But in the end, the chants of "Veto the mosquito!" and a very large net did him in.
Resident Bishop Jeremiah Park announced that eight churches had committed to raise $50,000 each giving the conference campaign $400,000 in pledges to start. Several other churches committed amounts from $5,000 to $20,000. The offering brought forth during the event totaled $182,787, including a $50,406 donation from the Bishop's Partners in Mission Fund.
As she was ending her message, Bishop Dyck said, "Surely you can outshine the Minnesota Conference," she said, "You're New York!"
The opening worship on Wednesday celebrated how women in ministry have helped transform the world. Created to mark the 40th anniversary of the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (GCSRW), the theme that there's "still more work to be done" was sounded throughout the service.
"Many congregations still refuse women pastors," said Rev, Denise Smartt Sears, the evening's preacher. "Now that might be okay if we were living in the dark ages ... or if we didn't know our mission statement. But that's not the case, and institutional change is needed."
In what could have been his last episcopal address to the New York Conference, Bishop Park sounded notes of gratitude, contrition and challenge on Friday morning.
The bishop expressed deep concern over the divisions in the church created by the issues of homosexuality and same-sex marriages, but said he stands firm in his belief that the church is united as the Body of Christ.
"God is bigger than the differences we have," Park said. "No matter how challenging ... we have a clear mandate to be one in the church."
Bishop Park offered three essential criteria to become a new church in new world: First, the church must be missionary, beginning with the mission field in our own backyard. Secondly, young people must lead the church. The average age in the world is 37 years old; the average in our church is 57. Third, a new church is what the Holy Spirit is all about. The Spirit birthed the church in the first place.
Bishop Dyck also offered an honest, yet hopeful, message during the Saturday afternoon Celebration of Ministry. UMC bishops Alfred Johnson and F. Herbert Skeete, and Bishop Robert A. Rimbo of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America joined in the service.
"I've gotten a lot of scars doing things that I love," she said, turning to the candidates for ordination and commissioning. "Ministry is a lot like that. You're not going to get out of this without some wounds and scars.
"You can't really protect yourself," Dyck said. But there is a salve "some no-scar stuff" when you see the difference that God can make in the life of another, she added.
Members endorsed three candidates for bishop in the Northeastern Jurisdiction: Long Island East District Superintendent Rev. Adrienne Brewington, Rev. Tim Riss of Hicksville (N.Y.) UMC and Rev. Edward Horne of the UMC of Westport and Weston, Conn. Brewington and Riss had been previously recommended for endorsement by the delegation to the general and jurisdictional conferences; all three received the endorsement of the annual conference on the first ballot.
In legislative action, the gathering:
Rejected an "Olive Branch Resolution" seeking a two-year moratorium to "lay aside our issues of disagreement...on homosexual behavior and same-sex marriages" for the "express purpose of building unity of one mind and heart to focus on the mission of the Church."
Supported the petition "Spiritual Crisis Caused by the Requirement to Discriminate," which sought to have the NYAC affirm its "historic commitment to the...rights and privileges of all persons, including LGBT persons." And to acknowledge the "grave pastoral crisis facing the Church at all levels" when clergy are bound by conscience to stand with Jesus amid the marginalized and oppressed. After passage, a motion came forward asking the bishop to issue a decision of law whether the resolution violated certain paragraphs in the Book of Discipline.
Adopted "Study Committee for an Inclusive Conference," which laments the General Conference's turn from the "Wesleyan conviction of God's pure, unbounded love" in connection with the LGBT community, calls for the NYAC to "study and evaluate alternative ways of being The United Methodist Church in the Wesleyan tradition and to further explore the structural and disciplinary changes in The United Methodist Church."
Approved the 2013 budget: $8,718,593 for shared ministries; $3,346,951 for pensions; and $4,209,869 for health benefits for active clergy. The total of $16,275,413 is 4.2 percent less than 2012.
Other highlights of conference included:
Approving and celebrating the chartering of a new church, Flushing Chinese UMC, that is home to more than 200 members.
The welcoming of new ministers: Four persons were licensed as local pastors, four were commissioned as provisional elders, one was ordained as a deacon in full connection, six were ordained as elders in full connection, and one elder from another denomination was received as a full member. The average age of the ordination class is 47.
The naming of three new Vision Bearers who will begin prayer hotlines, a church for NYC college students, and a house church for incoming Asian families.
Celebrating the faithful service of 23 clergy members who are retiring.
A memorial service honoring 27 members of the clergy, clergy spouses and children, and special friends of the conference, who had died in the past year. The preacher, Metropolitan District Superintendent St. Clair Samuel, told those gathered that God offers fresh strength for the journey. "No matter what we explore, God is with us."
A report from the General Conference delegation.
Rev. Bill Pfohl and Christian educator Elizabeth Christie teaming up to present an interactive, multi-generational Bible study called, "Good and Bad Samaritans."
The UM Men surprising Bishop Park by naming him as a fellow in the Society of John Wesley. It is the highest honor that the UMM can bestow.
Lucille Dockery, Hyde Park UMC, was honored as the first recipient of the conference's Shirley Parris Award given for exceptional volunteer service to the United Methodist connection.
The collection of 3,771 health kits for UMCOR.
Offerings totaling $14,370 received for Women's Advocate Ministry, Black College Fund, and the Ministerial Education Fund.
Membership stands at 114,157, down 506 from 2010. Worship attendance is 34,394, down 619. Church school attendance is 9,840, down 280 from 2010.
* Rev. Joanne Utley, New York Annual Conference communications coordinator