2014 Louisiana Annual Conference
June 8-11, 2014 at Centenary College in Shreveport, La.
Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey told conference members, “The closer you get to God, the riskier it gets” during her Episcopal Address delivered June 8 during the Communion Service at the 2014 Louisiana Annual Conference. “Woven Together: Changing the World” was the theme for this year's Conference, held at Centenary College in Shreveport, La. from June 8 to 11.
The logo for this year’s annual conference, featuring a double helix, spoke to the DNA of the United Methodist movement, and the idea that we are woven by God into this DNA. In her Episcopal Address, Bishop Harvey said, “I want us to be a people who are not only woven together but act like they are woven together, love that they are woven together, even with all of our quirkiness, our uniqueness and all that we hold in common and in tension. A people called United Methodist woven together that are changing the world.” Read the Bishop's address at http://www.la-umc.org/pages/detail/2167.
Stacy Hood served as worship leader for the Communion Service, which featured youth teams of liturgical dancers and step dancers. An offering taken during the service raised more than $33,400 for UMCOR health kits. Hood, director of worship-related ministries for Grace Community United Methodist Church in Shreveport, served as worship leader throughout this year’s annual conference.
The annual conference also celebrated the second annual Skeeter Run, a conference-wide event held in 2013 which raised funds and awareness for Imagine No Malaria. More than 2,500 volunteers and runners participated in last year’s event, which raised close to $78,000 for the initiative. The 2014 Skeeter Run is slated for Oct. 11 with five races slated throughout Louisiana; a sixth run will be held in Shreveport on Aug. 9, in conjunction with a special Mission Weekend hosted by First United Methodist Church, Shreveport.
The Rev. Matt Rawle, pastor of The Well United Methodist Church, served as master of ceremonies for the first annual Wesley Awards celebration, held Tuesday evening. “A la” Oscars (in our case, “The Wesleys”), winners from throughout the conference were given “gold plated” John Wesley bobble-head statuettes in recognition of outstanding ministries. To add to the fun and festive nature of the event, those attending dressed in outfits ranging from tuxedos to “tuxedo t-shirts,” church dresses to evening gowns, and Bermuda shorts to jeans. Two very special Lifetime Achievement Awards were presented to the United Methodist Foundation of Louisiana and to the Lydia Patterson Institute in El Paso. A list of Wesley Award recipients can be found at http://www.la-umc.org/news/detail/1270.
Prior to the start of the Sunday night Communion Service, conference members gathered outside the Gold Dome on Centenary's campus for a Louisiana tailgate party, enjoying music, refreshments from food trucks and lots of fellowship with friends, old and new!
Monday morning, after the Clergy and Lay Sessions were held at Brown Chapel and Broadmoor United Methodist Church respectively, conference members convened in the Gold Dome for a Celebration of Life, as we remembered 28 clergy and clergy spouses who have entered Life Eternal in the past year. The Rev. Don Avery, the Rev. Juliet Spencer and Austin Rinehart served as speakers for the service.
On three occasions, delegates participated in discussions surrounding several T.E.D. talks focused on topics designed to help strengthen and enhance our work as the Church.
Monday evening, the Ordination and Commissioning Service was held at First United Methodist Church in Shreveport. Four people were ordained elders and received into full connection with the conference, and one was ordained deacon and received into full connection with the conference. Three were commissioned as provisional elders, and one was commissioned as a provisional deacon.
On Tuesday, conference members elected delegates to the 2016 General and Jurisdictional Conferences. Clergy delegates to General Conference are the Revs. Andy Goff, Juliet Spencer, Pat Day and Bernadine Johnson; and lay delegates are Carolyn Dove, Dr. Sarah Kreutziger, Pete Aguila and Terrel DeVille. Additional clergy delegates to Jurisdictional Conference are the Revs. Lynn Malone, Juan Huertas, Ellen Alston and James Mitchell; and additional lay delegates are Stacy Hood, Amanda Price, Walter Weiss and Olivia Pruett. Alternate Clergy delegates are the Revs.. Katie McKay Simpson and Matt Rawle; and lay delegates, Rob Fairly Jr. and Todd Rossnagel.
A budget of $7,553,653 was proposed by CF&A for approval. An amendment proposing an additional $60,000 in the budget for Wesley Foundations was approved by the body. A final budget of $7,613,653 was approved by conference members.
The conference voted in favor of a petition calling for a "commitment to unity, peace and mission" in the Church. The item was submitted by 62 persons, both lay and clergy. The petition can be found online here.
A report from the Restructure Task Force recommended that the committee submit its final support at the 2015 Annual Conference, with the intent of implementation by the 2016 Annual Conference. The group's work is focusing on an alternative structure for our work as a conference.
The 2014 class of clergy retirees was honored during the traditional “Passing of the Mantle” service, held Wednesday morning in the Gold Dome. The Rev. Don Avery represented the retiring class, and the Rev. Kathy Wafer represented the new full member class. A total of 20 clergy are retiring this year.
Awards and scholarship winners were recognized throughout the conference. A list of award recipients and scholars can be found at http://www.la-umc.org/pages/detail/2163.
Membership stands at 120,110, down 0.7 percent from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 40,755, down 1 percent. Church school attendance stands at 15,180, down 6 percent. Some areas that showed increases were participants in Christian Formation Groups at 43,607, up by 0.2 percent and ongoing classes other than Sunday school at 1,112, increased by 18 percent.
Clergy appointments for 2014-15 may be found here.
The 2014 Louisiana Annual Conference is slated for June 7-10 at Centenary College in Shreveport.
— Betty Backstrom