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2013 South Georgia Annual Conference

June 2-4, 2013, Macon

The 2013 South Georgia Annual Conference session was one of mission and minimizing.

Held June 2-4 at the Macon Centreplex in Macon, Ga. under the theme "The Least of These," more than 1,000 South Georgia United Methodist clergy and laity gathered together to conference in the Wesleyan tradition and make critical decisions about the future structure of the Conference. Bishop James R. King, Jr., episcopal leader of the South Georgia area, presided over his fifth Annual Conference session in South Georgia.

In the biggest action taken at this year's session, clergy and lay delegates debated and voted whether or not to retain the current nine-district structure. After several motions and impassioned speeches for and against reduction, the body voted to reduce the number of districts from nine to six.

The other major highlight of the three-day session was service. The Office of Connectional Ministries organized three mission opportunities for South Georgia United Methodists to put their faith into action.

During Sunday evening's opening worship service a special offering was taken and over $39,000 was given for the ministry of Stop Hunger Now.

On Monday, nearly 150 volunteers spent their lunch break packaging mobile meals for Stop Hunger Now. They packed more than 30,000 meals, which contain a vitamin packet and a scoop each of rice, soy flour, and dehydrated vegetables.

On Tuesday, attendees supported the Conference's local mission agencies, donating movies, toiletries, school supplies, baby wipes and more to Magnolia Manor, the Methodist Children's Home, Open Door Community Center, Vashti, Wesley Community Centers and Wesley Glen.

Bishop King, in his Monday afternoon episcopal address, reminded everyone of the South Georgia Conference's vision. "We know where we are going," he said. "We have a vision it's a vision of a Christlike world."

He also reminded attendees that God's plan is for everyone, and that God considers everyone special.

"God expects every person to honor God and glorify Him with their faith," Bishop King said. "God loves the people you don't like. God loves the people you resent. I believe in my heart that God's plan includes everyone."

He admonished everyone to "see Jesus in every person."

"I believe the world will get better and better when we see that we are all God's children, and that makes everyone special."

In other actions, members:

  • heard the Lay Leader's Addresses given by Roy Blackwood and celebrated his faithful service as Gloria Morgan was named the new conference lay leader.

  • heard an inspiring sermon by Bishop Al Gwinn, retired episcopal leader, as he reminded those being ordained and commissioned that "It is so important for you to remember this is not your work. God wants to do God's work through you. This is God's story. You and I serve out of love for Christ and His church."

  • heard messages from the Rev. Jenny Jackson-Adams in the opening worship service and the Rev. Creede Hinshaw in the Memorial Service.

  • were led by Dr. Denise Hopkins, professor of Hebrew Bible at Wesley Theological Seminary, in two teaching moments.

  • were reminded of our Wesleyan roots through three "John Wesley Moments" given by the Rev. Dave Hanson.

  • celebrated the ministry of New and Revitalized Congregational Development and the constituting of two new churches The Ridge in Columbus and Gateway Community in Rincon.

  • were introduced to Allison Evans as the new CEO of the Methodist Home for Children and Youth.

  • were greeted by Gil Hanke, General Secretary of the Commission on United Methodist Men.

  • voted in favor of four constitutional amendments.

  • approved an $11.02 million budget for mission and ministry for the next year.

Four people were commissioned as provisional elders and three persons were commissioned as provisional deacons. Six persons were ordained into the Order of Elder, and one person ordained into the Order of Deacon. Twenty pastors retired, and seven were recognized for achieving their 50th anniversary in ministry. Thirty clergy and clergy spouses who died in the past year were remembered during the memorial service.

124,872, down 3,249 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 49,973, down 1,046. Church school attendance stands at 36,423, down 1,703.

- Kara Witherow and Kelly Roberson, Communications, South Georgia Annual Conference.