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2014 Detroit Annual Conference

May 15-18, 2014 at Adrian College

The Detroit Annual Conference was held on the campus of Adrian College on May 15-18, 2014. Bishop Deborah Lieder Kiesey presided at her second session of the annual conference since coming to Michigan in September 2012.

Marcia McFee not only served as guest teacher sharing principles for M-M-Good Worship but also worked over recent months to design the worship for both the Detroit and West Michigan annual conferences. Preachers — Bishop Kiesey, the Rev. DeAnn Dobbs and the Rev. Anthony Hood — delivered sermons focused on unity in diversity as the Body of Christ.

The other guest speaker for the week was Bishop Sally Dyck, leader of the Northern Illinois Conference. She was present as a cheerleader for Imagine No Malaria (INM). She expressed gratitude for the Michigan Area’s commitment to raise $1.5 million. “How does The United Methodist Church raise $75 million? … One conference at a time,” she noted. An Ingathering tallied $100,612 in new pledges; $46,269 in cash received. The Michigan Area stands at 46 percent of goal with a total of $686,184 paid and promised across the area. A similar Ingathering will happen at the West Michigan Conference on June 11.

Mission and Ministry highlights for the following year were celebrated on Friday. Highlights included: vital mergers; a newly trained cadre of Spanish-speaking leaders for the Lay Missionary Planting Network;  27 summer interns will serve in 10 sites this year; a renewed covenant between the Detroit Conference and the Methodist Church of Haiti;  recognition for the conference by the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries as the conference in the North Central Jurisdiction with the highest percentage of congregations giving to The Advance; an invitation to the Liberia Summit to be hosted at Nardin Park United Methodist Church, Nov. 13-14. In addition, a new conference staff person, Bridgit Nelson, shared her plans for youth and young adults. Also, Mary Gladstone-Highland was re-affirmed as a commissioned Church and Community Worker, serving in Clarkston.

Amy Mayo-Moyle received the John Buxton Award that recognizes creative leadership. She is the chair of the Conference Leadership Team. Two people received the Harry Denman Award, a national recognition conferred by the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. Jeff Parsons, Director of Bayshore Camp, and the Rev. Jeff Nelson, pastor of Redford Aldersgate United Methodist Church, were cited for their exceptional efforts in evangelistic outreach.

Two standing votes were taken, both involved matters of sexual orientation and both passed with a 3-vote margin. The first action regarded five questions for candidates running for state office. An amendment to use the entire Book of Discipline in framing question was defeated. The five question were affirmed — 1) gun violence; 2) comprehensive immigration reform; 3) free and fair elections; 4) funding for public schools; and 5) equal rights for all and stance on marriage equality. The second standing vote approved a resolution calling for grace and love available to all persons. On the following day a motion was passed that asked Bishop Kiesey to rule whether the action taken is in accordance with the Discipline. This is to be done within 30 days and her decision will then be reviewed by Judicial Council.

Members approved a new Detroit Annual Conference structure; a resolution on fossil fuel infrastructure was approved that encourages environmental stewardship; commitment to immigration reform was reaffirmed; a $10.10 minimum wage increase was encouraged; a 2015 budget as approved that’s 5.3 percent lower than 2014 due to the 28.1 percent reduction in pension apportionment; delegates to General and Jurisdictional Conference will be elected in 2015.

Clergy Statistics: four provisional deacons and eight provisional elders were commissioned. One deacon and three elders were ordained. Six local pastors were licensed. Twenty-five clergy retired including 3 deacons, one local pastor, one on honorable location, and 20 elders. The opening Memorial Service remembered 21 clergy, 12 clergy spouses, one child of the parsonage, and two laity.

Conference Statistics for 2013: membership stands at 86, 691 (down 2,969); worship attendance stands at 39,912 (down 1,715); church school attendance stands at 10,660 (down 278); professions of faith 1,883 (down 210); and baptisms 1,212 (down 274). Also celebrated 90 Volunteer in Mission teams (up 20 from 2012) including 1,183 volunteers (up 407 from 2012). During the Corporate Session three churches were discontinued as worshiping communities: Decker, Marine City and New Hope.

Bishop Kiesey adjourned the conference celebrating the way members lived out the hopes she expressed during opening worship three days before. “We have tried to stay in relationship over difficult issues. We listened for understanding. We have looked for the Christ in the people around us, and we have worked to find the unity that we have together,” she concluded.

— Kay DeMoss, senior editor-writer, Michigan Area