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2014 Wisconsin Annual Conference

June 20-22, 2014 in Middleton, Wisconsin

The 2014 Wisconsin Annual Conference took place at the Madison Marriott West in Middleton on June 20-22. The conference session featured the theme “Sowing the Seed,” continuing our quadrennial focus of “Live the Fruit of the Spirit.” Conference attendees lived their ministry by giving generously for Ingathering, donating $9,939 and a number of items. These items included 450 infant hats; 71 bedding kits; 209 layette kits; 155 sewing kits; 152 cleaning buckets; 65 sweaters; 64 birthing kits; 182 health kits; 1,174 kits for Harbor House Crisis Shelters and Northcott Neighborhood House; 2,083 schoolbag kits, 15 school desks; and 10 boxes of miscellaneous items. An offering for the Clergy in Transition Fund raised $1,925.

During the session, the Wisconsin Conference officially announced its commitment to raise $1 million for the Imagine No Malaria campaign by end of 2015, and conference members donated $12,962 during the weekend (amount does not include pledges, or credit card and ACH — Automated Clearing House — donations). A matching donation of $10,000 was also pledged by the Wisconsin United Methodist Foundation for a total of almost $23,000 raised for Imagine No Malaria during the annual conference session.

Twelve delegates were elected to the 2016 General and Jurisdictional Conferences:

  • Lay Delegates to General Conference: Lisa King, Barbara Dick, Gail Burgess
  • Clergy Delegates to General Conference: The Revs. Dan Dick, Sam Royappa, Steve Zekoff
  • Lay Delegates to Jurisdictional Conference: Katie Estrem-Fuller, Tom Popp, Judy Vasby
  • Clergy Delegates to Jurisdictional Conference: The Revs. Amanda Stein, Jorge Mayorga Solis, Dan Schwerin
  • Lay Reserve Delegates: Jennifer Southworth, John Lawson, Diane Odeen, Julie Schubring
  • Clergy Reserve Delegates: The Revs. Dawn Helton-Anishinaabeqwa, Jeremy Deaner, George Kafer, Jennifer Arneson

Almost three dozen conference action items were voted on for implementation in the coming year; all were passed except a call to boycott SodaStream. One major action item that passed was the Proposal for the Redistricting of the Wisconsin Conference, which will establish five new districts with new boundaries and names within the conference (previously there were eight). Each district will be guided by a district superintendent, and the pastoral charges of the Wisconsin Annual Conference will be realigned in a manner intended to maximize the impact of the role and responsibility of the district superintendent. An amended version of the Action Item was passed, eliminating the reference to the location of the fifth district office. A motion was also passed to implement a process for reporting qualitative and quantitative outcomes of renewed and revitalized connectional life as a result of the new structure to the 2019 Annual Conference. Other approved items included: the 2015 budget, continued covenant affiliations with Northcott Neighborhood House and Harbor House Crisis Shelter, and a Rainbow Covenant program to encourage mission giving.

During his inspiring Opening Sermon, Bishop Jung invited clergy and laity to “Imagine Wisconsin Anew” as they “Sow the Seeds” of this year’s annual conference. He spoke about his journey across Wisconsin to visit every church. “Everywhere I have gone,” he said, “I’ve found faithful members, eager to share their faith, eager to be in ministry with their communities.” He reminded the group that we need to “sow the seed together faithfully; and sow the seed of abundance in our lives and churches.” He said his vision for Wisconsin “will require decisive leadership — leadership that shows the way, not only by active service in the congregation, but with God’s dream, we will sow together for new, diverse, and young people,” he said. “We will sow the seed with God-centered visioning… We will sow God’s dream through scriptural holiness…We will sow mission-mobilizing passion for our church. Yes, we will sow together justice-mercy ministries everywhere.” To read the sermon in its entirety, click here.

Speaking from the perspective of the first lay person to be elected president of United Methodist-related Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, Dr. Lallene Rector encouraged lay members to be strong leaders at the Friday evening laity session. “Much of the work [of the church] is done by laity,” she said. “I believe that we’re all called to be leaders by virtue of our baptism; I believe in the priesthood of all believers, and lay persons are leading all the time, whether we recognize it or not, because people are looking to us as Christians. We are leading, and we need to claim that we’re leading. Leading is not about being visible at the top or in charge; by virtue of being baptized Christians, we’re all leading in terms of the life that we lead.” Click here to read more about the evening.

The Rev. Dr. Dianne Reistroffer, an elder in the Wisconsin Conference and former dean of Louisville Theological Seminary, led Bible studies on Saturday and Sunday mornings. She talked about personal and social holiness, and Phoebe Palmer, who Reistroffer said offers a compelling vision for United Methodists even 140 years after her death. Reistroffer said Palmer’s bold witness to the power of holiness did not stop at the personal; she and others reached out in acts of charity and justice, Reistroffer said. “I marvel at how this Conference has promoted justice issues; I have frequently held up this Conference for its women and diversity leadership,” she said. Click here to read more about Saturday’s session and click here to read more about Sunday’s.

On Saturday morning, Rick Churan announced that Stanley Cottrill, a 92-year retired plumber and member of New London United Methodist Church, gave $1 million to the Wisconsin United Methodist Foundation for the WUMF Seminary Scholarship Fund. “He is a truly remarkable man,” Churan said. “His legacy gift will support seminary students for many years to come.”

On Saturday evening, members and friends of the Conference gathered for a banquet to celebrate the Conference’s dedication to supporting missional efforts. Director of Connectional Ministries, the Rev. Dan Dick, announced that the Wisconsin Conference paid the highest percentage of apportionments to Africa University last year at 131.7 percent. Assistant campaign director of Imagine No Malaria Ashley Gish thanked the Wisconsin Conference for its commitment to the Imagine No Malaria campaign, and Paul Webster, a Wisconsin native and United Methodist Board of Global Ministries missionary serving at Mujila Falls Agriculture Centre in Zambia, gave the keynote speech about his work there and his friend and fellow missionary Tshala Mwengo, who tragically passed this year. The Rev. Dr. Young Joo Kim, general secretary of the National Council of Churches in Korea, was also a special guest and asked attendees to pray for the peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula, and Bishop Jung announced that our sister conference, the Dongbu Conference in South Korea, donated $2,000 to the Hmong House of Good News, a health and welfare ministry in Milwaukee. Click here to read more about the evening.

During the banquet, the recipients of several Conference awards were also honored. The Harry Denman Evangelism award, which recognizes excellence in evangelism, was given to three individuals: Norma Maria Hernandez (youth), the Rev. Sam Royappa (clergy), and Carleen Sook (laity). The Thelma Gregg award, which honors lay persons who are doing vital missions in ways that reflect the love of Christ, was given to Kady Herr Yang. Other awards were given to Barbara Certa-Werner (Commission on the Status and Role of Women Bridge Builder Awards), MacArthur Weddle (Perry Saito Award), and Bruce Koch (Love in Action Award).

During his State of the Church presentation on Sunday morning, Bishop Jung talked about ways in which we can “Sow the Seeds” in the upcoming year. “To grow in ministry, we must sow seeds. By sowing seeds, we will begin new congregations. By sowing seeds, we will start new ministries in existing congregations. If seeds are well planted, many new faith ministries will sprout up and bloom throughout Wisconsin.” He said that “we have already identified 40 potential new ministry opportunities in Wisconsin.” He also explained the need for revamping Circuit Ministry, and going from eight districts to five, with the addition of a fifth district superintendent to provide a better connection between superintendents and congregations. Additionally, Bishop Jung announced the launching of the Imagine No Malaria initiative in Wisconsin, with a goal of raising $1 million dollars over the next year. “I am excited that we in Wisconsin will have an opportunity to assist in the fight against malaria,” he exclaimed. Click here to read his full address.

Nineteen retiring clergy were recognized for their years of service, including Nicolet-Winnebago District Superintendent, the Rev. Gordon Lind.

During the Licensing, Commissioning and Ordination Service on Sunday afternoon, 17 individuals were licensed as local pastors, four were ordained as elders, and one was commissioned as a deaconess. In addition, two were commissioned for the work of an elder, one was presented for credentialing as a person who has been elected as an associate member for service as a pastor under appointment of the Bishop, and one was recognized as an elder.

The service featured several special guests, including Bishop Donald Ott; Bishop Mary Froiland, South-Central Wisconsin Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; and the Rev. Dr. Young Joo Kim, general secretary of the National Council of Churches in Korea. Bishop Ott gave a heartfelt sermon filled with wisdom and talked about his granddaughter, Cora, who was recently confirmed, and gave the clergy advice that he hoped his granddaughter would also heed. “Clergy are appointed to churches, but these people are not your mission,” he said. “Children, the poor, and the principalities of this world should be your focus. The Church and its disciples are your mission team; you need to get on with the task of making disciples for the transformation of the world.” Click here to read more about the service.

Click here to read all stories written during the 2014 Annual Conference session.

View pictures from Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of Annual Conference.

Click here to visit the Conference Ustream page to watch video recorded during all three days of annual conference.

— Michele Virnig, communications director, and Amanda Rehrauer, communications assistant