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2013 West Ohio Annual Conference

June 9-12, 2013 Lakeside, Ohio

With much to celebrate, our 44th session opened on June 9 as thefirst West Ohio Annual Conference to be led by Bishop Gregory V. Palmer, new resident bishop of the Ohio West Area. The nearly 2,700 members and guests in attendance experienced another opportunity to witness what an inspiring leader and preacher he is.

The annual conference theme this year was "Taken," and is the first in a series that focuses on the different steps of the Eucharist, and how they show God's desire for relationship with us in "becoming the beloved community of Christ." "Blessed," "Broken," and "Given" are the remaining three steps to be covered in future annual conference sessions.

Worship: "Called by Name" and "Taken"

Using Isaiah 43 as a backdrop, Bishop Palmer voiced the heart of God in this renewal, saying, "I've not only redeemed you, I've called you by name. You are precious. You are mine."

Following his message, the bishop held in his arms Aurora Elena Pettingill, newborn daughter to the Rev. David and Lindsey Pettingill, and baptized her with the reaffirmation of all conference members present.

On Wednesday morning, Bishop Palmer refined the meaning of the key word from the theme "Taken," as conference members came to a deeper understanding of being God's Beloved. As we are taken, we have been chosen by the heart and hands of God. There is a world in need of his nourishing truth, this life-giving story. "What will you take, as in carry, into the world?" he asked.

Celebration of Life and Ministry Service

Guest preacher, Bishop Callon Holloway Jr., from the Southern Ohio Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, spoke of the service of ministers and Christians to the whole church, working together in unity, no matter the denomination. Bishop Palmer commissioned 3 provisional deacons and 28 provisional elders, and ordained 1 deacon and 11 elders.

Conference members also recognized and honored the retiring class that represented an extraordinary 1,218 years served in ministry.

Bishop's Bible Study

Elaine Robinson, academic dean and associate professor of United Methodist studies and theology at Saint Paul School of Theology at Oklahoma City University, was invited to speak on the annual conference theme of "Taken," during three Bishop's Bible Study sessions. Robinson taught passionately that the Eucharist is the central image of our faith because at one table, we have both the redemption and the promise of new life, as well as justification and sanctification, forgiveness and restoration to the image of God. "We are taken by God to be taken with God and to be taken with others."

Imagine No Malaria $3.5M Pledge

Bishop Palmer announced the launch of West Ohio's commitment over three years of $3.5 million to the Imagine No Malaria Campaign. Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church has dedicated their Christmas Offering this year to the campaign, and pledged $1 million. Commitment cards were handed out to members with the opportunity to pledge and/or learn more. Members responded during the session with an immediate offering of $100,212 toward the campaign, and turned in pledge cards toward future support.

Laity Session

Guest speakers, the Rev. Jim and Jennifer Cowart from Harvest Church, a United Methodist congregation located in South Georgia, spoke on the importance of listening to what God is saying to our churches, and examining how we are envisioning and operating our ministries. "Jesus, the king of the universe, knows your name and he calls it," Jim said. "But he also asks you to call out the name of the people who haven't come to your church, yet.

Business

  1. The 2012 Missional Report gave an overview of key ministry areas as of December 31, 2012.

  2. The 2012 General Conference Constitutional Amendments were voted on as well as the following recommendations (text available in Book of Reports):

    • Passed: Budget, Equitable Compensation, Pension & Health Benefits
    • Passed: Camp Sabroske Release of Interest and Title
    • Passed: Resolution to Support Global Maternal and Child Health through the Healthy Families, Healthy Planet Project
    • Passed: Resolution for West Ohio ConferenceAdvanceSpecial
    • Defeated: Petition Requesting Conference Education and Conversation on the Nature, Role, Authority and Interpretation of Scripture
    • Withdrawn: Formation of a Rural, Town & Country Task Force

Recognitions:

  • The General Board of Global Ministries presented to the West Ohio Conference the award for the highest total amount of designated giving to the Advance in 2012, $2.6 million.
    • Offerings for Clergy Development ($6,552) and Imagine No Malaria ($100,212)
  • Denman Awards:
    • Youth Award to Nicholas Brown of Lindenwald United Methodist Church
    • Clergy Award to the Rev. Mike Berry of Medway United Methodist Church
  • Telling the Story Video Award:

The entire session of the annual conference was livestreamed with 4,600 unique views from nine different countries.

The year 2012 ended with 1,040 churches (down 27) serving 188,059 members (down 5,199) with worship attendance of 109,983 (down 1,060) and Sunday school attendance of 31,199 (down 2,334). Stewardship increased with apportioned giving by our churches at 75 percent (up 5 percent) with an increase by 5 percent of the number of 100 percent churches, and giving to the denomination at 94 percent (up 29 percent).

- Lisa Streight, director of communications, West Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church