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2012 West Virginia Annual Conference

West Virginia Annual Conference
June 6-9, 2012, Buckhannon, W.Va.

The West Virginia Annual Conference met for its 44th session June 6-9 at West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon, W.Va. The session was led by resident Bishop William Boyd Grove.

"I Will be Your Witness: Participation," was the final in a four-year series of themes emphasizing evangelism. More than 1,100 churches were represented by more than 1,000 lay and clergy members of conference.

The had nearly 1,400 unique visits during conference - up 27 percent from a year ago. Twitter usage was robust during conference, and an active group blog added new voices to the conference experience.

Bishop Marcus Matthews of the Upper New York Episcopal Area and the Rev. Tex Sample of Phoenix, Ariz., were the featured speakers. In his June 6 sermon, the bishop reminded the conference that humanity hungers for truth and life. "All it takes is a small group of people to make a difference in meeting that need," he said.

The bishop cited 19th century Methodist preacher and evangelist, the Rev. William Booth, who worked his entire life to make a difference in the lives of people. Booth's ministry to the most destitute in London's East End became the foundation for the Salvation Army.

The Rev. Tex Sample emphasized the need for church members to connect with people in their communities. That connection, he said, goes beyond casual acquaintance. Sample based his evangelism teachings on the idea that we must "pitch tent" with our communities to really know them. "The Christian faith is not a view of life; it's a way of life," he said.

In a passionate sermon delivered during the service of ordination and commissioning June 8, Bishop William Boyd Grove urged those being ordained and commissioned to act on the Good News by sharing it. "You are agents of the interruption," he said. "When the news is this good, shouldn't we interrupt the culture?"

The annual conference passed resolutions supporting passage of an anti-human trafficking law and the establishment of a mineral future fund by the West Virginia Legislature. Conference members also passed resolutions affirming the work of the United Methodist Commission on the Role and Status of Women, and one that establishes a Committee on Native American Ministries in the conference.

The Rev. J. Montgomery Brown was elected as the episcopal nominee for the conference. The Rev. Jeffrey S. Allen was announced as the new executive director of the West Virginia Council of Churches, the oldest such council in the nation.

Conference adopted a $12,113,269 budget for 2013, an increase of $405,252, up 3.46 percent from 2012.

At the end of 2011, membership stood at 99,585, down 373 from 2010. Worship attendance stands at 45,159, down 250. Church school attendance stands at 22,294, down 1,013.

Four elders were ordained; their average age was 47 years old. Two deacons and four elders were commissioned as provisional members. The annual conference also welcomed four associate members into the conference; 25 clergy were welcomed into retired relationship with the conference.

- Laura Harbert Allen, director of communications