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2013 North Georgia Annual Conference

North Georgia Annual Conference
June 11-13, 2013, Athens, Ga.

Bishop B. Michael Watson called to order the 147th North Georgia Annual Conference session under the theme "Bridges to Mission," marking his fifth year of service in the North Georgia Episcopal Area. Throughout the three-day session, North Georgia United Methodists celebrated their growing commitment and connections to nations around the world as well as to local outreach efforts.

The conference welcomed 24 international mission partners from The Bahamas, El Salvador, East Africa, Portugal, The Philippines and Russia, plus World Methodist Evangelism and local mission agency Action Ministries.

These "Bridges" mission partners each made presentations on the floor of Annual Conference and then held more in-depth informational sessions on Wednesday evening. Each Annual Conference attendee was encouraged to take part in two breakout sessions and to consider partnering with one or more "Bridges" mission opportunities.

Continuing the focus on mission, conference members and guests assembled 518 UMCOR Cleaning Kits, donated 67 units of blood through the Red Cross, ran an early morning 5K to raise funds for the North Georgia Conference Housing and Homeless Council, and gave more than $100,000 to the Annual Conference special offering for Bridges mission partners.

At its service of Licensing, Commissioning and Ordination, the North Georgia Conference commissioned six provisional deacons and 12 provisional elders, ordained two deacons in full connection and 18 elders in full connection, and recognized orders of two clergy from other denominations.

Twenty-seven retirees were honored at the retirement service.

At the Service of Remembrance, the Rev. Jamie Jenkins explained that the "Bridges" theme of Annual Conference has eternal applications, as well as global. In the solemn, sacred service, 38 clergy, clergy spouses and lay leaders were honored.

Guest preachers during the week included Bishop Teresa Snorton of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, who reminded the gathering that we each have a spiritual account and we have to keep our faith renewed. Bishop Rodolfo Alfonso Juan of the Manila Episcopal Area preached at the Service of Licensing, Commissioning and Ordination. He challenged the ordinands and commissioners, saying, "It is not about what we can do, but what God can accomplish through us."

The conference established a budget of $23,994,749 for 2014, representing a 0.2 percent decrease from 2013. This represents the fifth straight year of a reduced budget. Conference Mission and Ministry budgets comprise 30.1 percent of the Conference portion of the budget versus 28 percent in 2013.

The Annual Conference passed five resolutions on:

  • increasing young adult participation by asking each district to nominate at least five adults between the ages of 18-35 years of age as at-large delegates;

  • asking the Bishop to consider amending the days of annual conference to include a weekend to pave the way for more young adult participation;

  • amending the guidelines for hosting Annual Conference to include a recommendation that the hotels making up the 2,500 bed requirement be signatories to The Code (a policy against the sexual exploitation of children);

  • supporting comprehensive immigration reform; and

  • working together to end bullying.

Membership stands at 362,802, up 3,991 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 126,381, down 1,032 from 2011. There were 6,347 professions of faith, up 526 from the year before. Persons participating in Christian Formation and other small group stands at 141,545, up 5,939 from the previous year.
The Conference Secretary presented the proposed constitutional amendments from the 2012 General Conference and the vote was taken. Results will be reported in November after the denominational ballot is closed.

The next session of the North Georgia Annual Conference will be held June 10-12, 2014 at The Classic Center in Athens.

- Sybil Davidson, Associate Director of Connectional Ministries for Communication, North Georgia Conference