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2015 East Ohio Conference

June 15-18, 2015, Lakeside Chautauqua in Marblehead, Ohio

Delegates in Attendance:  1,481 delegates (701 clergy, 780 lay)

Officiating bishop: Bishop John L. Hopkins

Theme: Jesus is Calling Us Up

Guest speakers: Bishop L. Jonathan Holston, the Revs. Jim Ozier and Charles Yoost and Barbara Boigegrain

Memorable points or quotes by speakers:

“God’s love is so strong that God invites us to be something different, not force us.  It’s that continuous love, regardless of what we do, that pulls us close to Him.”—Bishop John L. Hopkins, East Ohio

“Our churches need to have a long-term plan, not just ‘how are we going to make it through the year?’ but a long-term, multi-year plan.”  — EOC Treasurer Jessica Vargo

“We are called to discipleship living, kingdom living, difference-making living.” —Bishop L. Jonathan Holston, South Carolina

“We have to trust that if we try to be aware of and use our talents; that we keep at it every day, taking one step after another; that when we reach the end we will have served God’s purpose in the world.” — Barbara Boigegrain

“Don’t stay on the sidelines.  Don’t be half-hearted.  Our team hasn’t been up to bat yet!  Put your whole self in!  Jesus is calling.  Do you hear His voice?” — The Rev. Dr. Charles Yoost, New Retiree

Statistics:

Number of people ordained this year – 13 (11 elders, 2 deacons)

Average age of the ordinands is 43 years old

Number of people commissioned this year – 12 (all elders)

Average age of those commissioned is 47 years old

Number of people retired this year – 42

Membership stands at 150,928 – down 3,563 from the previous year.

Average weekly worship attendance stands at 58,018 – down 2,253 from the previous year.

Church school attendance stands at 17,155 – down 797 from the previous year.

Professions of faith stand at 2,271 – down 145 from the previous year.

Baptisms stand at 1,669 – down 166 from the previous year.

The following resolutions came before the body during the week:

Resolution 2015-01 – On Jail and Prison Ministry would encourage churches to remember the spiritual needs of prisoners and their families and seeks ways to become involved in the re-entry process.  Submitted by: EOC Prison Ministry Investigative Team, William Watts, chairperson.  The resolution was adopted.

Resolution 2015-02 – Commending Ohio General Assembly for Anti-poverty Work would commend the Ohio General Assembly for their renewed commitment to addressing the cycle of poverty and encourages churches, partner agencies and leadership to continue to advocate for this cause and that copies of the resolution be sent to the legislators.  Submitted by Chaplain Jared Gadomski Littleton.  The resolution was adopted.

Resolution 2015-3 – A Call to Respond to the Palestinian/Israeli Conflict asks that all United Methodists make a prayerful effort to educate themselves on the issue of a peace that is just for all sides, and that local churches be encouraged to participate in the observance of the World Week for Peace in Palestine, and that the East Ohio Conference encourage local churches to boycott products made by Israeli or American companies operating in Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.  Submitted by the EOC Church and Society Committee, Rev. Nathan Howe, chair.   The resolution was not adopted.

Resolution 2015-4 – A Declaration of Church Buildings as Weapon-Free Zones asks that local churches be encouraged to make every attempt to declare its building as a weapon-free zone, including displaying such declaration at each entrance of its building.  Submitted by the EOC Church and Society Committee, Rev. Nathan Howe, chairperson.  The resolution was not adopted.

Resolution 2015-5 – A Call to The United Methodist Church to Oppose Legalized Marijuana in Ohio asks that every member of The United Methodist Church of the East Ohio Conference oppose any effort and legislation that would legalize the use of marijuana for recreational reasons in the State of Ohio.  Submitted by Bucyrus United Methodist Church Missions and Outreach Committee.  The resolution was adopted.

The following petitions to General Conference came before the body during the week:

Petition 2016-01 – Global Book of Discipline and Social Principles states that it is not in our best interest as a denomination to attempt to have the General Conference establish Social Principles unchangeable global statements of church position. Submitted by First United Methodist Church of Oberlin, Ohio, the Rev. Andy Call.  The petition not supported.

Petition 2016-02 – Effectively Recruiting and Retaining Young Clergy of Color asks that The United Methodist Church in all of its United States annual conferences will actively recruit and retain clergy of color, with particular efforts to recruit and retain young clergy of color, using empirically supported culturally relevant employment practices for African American, Native American, Latina/o, and Asian American/Pacific Islander clergy.  Submitted by Martha E. Banks, Woodland United Methodist Church, Akron, Ohio.  The petition was not supported.

Petition 2016-03 – Clergy Supervisory File and Connectional Integrity asks that clergy have the right to review their Supervisory File annually, so that clergy will have total knowledge of its contents. Clergy shall have the right to include written challenges to the file’s contents and address issues requiring professional growth.  Submitted by: Rev. Chester H. Harris.  The petition was supported.

Petition 2016-04 – Regarding Use of Language asks that the Book of Discipline, ¶161F be amended because the current position of the UMC is in direct opposition to a basic Wesleyan tenet that we are to “Do no harm” because individuals, families, and the church have been hurt continuously by the current stance of the UMC.  Submitted by the East Ohio Reconciling Ministries Network and East Ohio Methodist Federation for Social Action, Bill Watts, chair.  The petition was not supported.

Petition 2016-5 – Regarding Standards and Conduct for Ordained Clergy calls for amending Book of Discipline ¶304.310 presents a barrier to keeping qualified clergy of all sexual orientations and gender identities from serving our church. In times of need for a rebirth of The United Methodist Church, we are forcing these very talented and gifted individuals to other denominations. Individuals of all sexual orientations and gender identities are fully competent to carry out the duties of ordained clergy in the UMC.  Submitted by the East Ohio Reconciling Ministries Network and East Ohio Methodist Federation for Social Action, Bill Watts, chair.  The petition was not supported.

Rick Wolcott, director of communications