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2014 South Georgia Annual Conference

June 1-3, 2014 in Savannah, Ga.

Steeped in Methodist history, Savannah was a fitting venue for an historic South Georgia Annual Conference session.

Held June 1 through June 3, 2014, at the Johnny Mercer Theatre, transition was the resounding theme of this year’s session as the South Georgia Conference officially reduced from nine districts to six.

“Change happens quickly, but transition takes time,” said Bishop James King, South Georgia’s episcopal leader, during his episcopal address. “I need you to be patient and persistent. I need you to be kind and loving towards each other.”

The only goal of a Christian, he said, is to satisfy God while growing a Christlike world.

“Everything else is adjustable, so we will keep adjusting.”

June 11, 2014, is the official date that the conference will transition to six districts: Coastal, North Central, Northeast, Northwest, South Central, and Southwest. 

During Monday evening’s Ordination Service, Bishop Ken Carter, episcopal leader of the Florida Conference, read from Revelation 21:1-5 as he told the ordinands that they have to have a vision — a vision for something that doesn’t yet exist.

The church today is not biblical, Wesleyan or sustainable, he said, but God wants to see the church as it should be, not as it is.

“God wants to see the church as his dream. As his project. As his mission,” Bishop Carter said. “God has a dream for this world and it’s all about alleviating human suffering.”

He urged the ordinands to allow laity to teach them the meaning of scripture and how it connects to life.

“In the places you are being sent, you will find a lay person who loves their community,” he said. “They are praying that someone would see the vision with them.

“To do this work you have to have a vision for a church that does not now exist.”

In other actions, members:

  • heard the Lay Leader’s Addresses given by Gloria Morgan  
  • heard a message from the Rev. Tommy Martin in the Memorial Service
  • were led by Dr. Craig Rikard, South Georgia pastor, and the Rev. Sharma Lewis, district superintendent in the North Georgia Conference, in two teaching moments
  • collected over $33,000 in support of Imagine No Malaria
  • 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 one new church — The Waterfront in Richmond Hill
  • supported the conference’s local mission agencies, donating toiletries, school supplies, gift cards, baby wipes and more to Magnolia Manor, the Methodist Children’s Home, Open Door Community Center, Vashti, Wesley Community Centers and Wesley Glen
  • approved an $10,336,776 million budget for mission and ministry for the next year

One person was commissioned as provisional elders and six persons were ordained into the Order of Elder. Nineteen pastors retired, and seven were recognized for achieving their 50th anniversary in ministry.  Twenty-five clergy and clergy spouses who died in the past year were remembered during the memorial service.

Membership stands at 121,990, down 2,882 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 49,385, down 588. Church school attendance stands at 30,827, down 5,596.

— written by Kara Witherow