2015 Peninsula Delaware Annual Conference
June 4-6, 2015, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Princess Anne, Maryland
Officiating Bishop: Peggy A. Johnson
The Rev. Jasmine R. Smothers, associate director of Connectional Ministries of the North Georgia Annual Conference; the Rev. Mike Slaughter, lead pastor at Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church, Tipp City, Ohio; Bishop Marcus Matthews, Baltimore-Washington Episcopal Area.
231st Peninsula-Delaware Annual Conference – Equipping a New Generation
The opening worship session of the 231st Annual Conference of the Peninsula-Delaware Conference began with a procession of clergy and laity entering the auditorium. Presiding Bishop Peggy A. Johnson opened with a greeting before introducing the Rev. Jasmine R. Smothers. Smothers brought a message of willingness to change and grow and expressed the necessity to allow death in order for new life to emerge. If we are unwilling to die for change to occur, we are truly not willing to follow God's plan for the church. She brought everyone to their feet with her message of challenge for growth to all. A celebration of Communion and recessional to the song “Oh, Happy Day" closed the opening worship session.
During Friday morning teaching sessions the Rev. Mike Slaughter used humor, brief videos and persuasive stories to describe how Christians can make transformation: not by screaming Jesus, rather by DOING JESUS!
He asked, “Do you ever ask why God has not responded to the needs of your neighbors?” Then he answered: “God is probably waiting for you to respond!”
“People aren’t looking for meetings, they are looking for MEANING!” says Slaughter, who has been lead pastor at Ginghamsburg for 36 years. There he threw out top down church structure (pastor/ committees/ congregation) in order to engage people in a missional model that puts congregations in mission first, undergirded by a very small administrative team. That pastor is the vision caster.
Celebration of Ministry
The Annual Celebration of Ministry, complete with the passing of the mantle from retiring clergy to new ordinands was completed. A celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Peninsula and Delaware conferences merging to become the Peninsula-Delaware Conference was also celebrated during today's sessions. A special video presentation highlighted stories and memories from the time during the historic merger of two conferences that became one. The Rev. Jervis Cooke, 95, is the oldest living clergy member of the conference. He played a key role in merging the Delaware Conference with the Peninsula Conference. Cooke spoke during the celebration and received a standing ovation for his work during the merger and continual service that amounts to over 70 years.
The Peninsula-Delaware Commissioning and Ordination Service is steeped in tradition. There was an atmosphere of expectation as musicians and the Clergy Festival Choir began to sing “Christ is our Cornerstone.” Music, prayer, excitement and some mystery were all evident. Bishop Peggy Johnson presided, Bishop Marcus Matthews offered the Word, and retired Bishop Susan Morrison participated in the laying on of hands.
The conference lay leader and 18 clergy shared in the service which commissioned missionaries – the Rev. Jonathan and Donna Baker – and provisional members for the Order of Elder: Kelly Anna Conner, Emanuel L. Johnson, and Eric David Warner. Full members ordained to the Order of Elder were: the Revs. Sheryl Lynn Alston, Lorraine Eleanora Brown, Julie Ann Lewis, James A. Pennuel III, and Dean L. Perdue.
The evening culminated with an invitation by Bishop Johnson for those in the audience to respond to God’s stirrings for ministry within their hearts. Slowly one or two came, then more and more. Very young, old, and in-between! Feeling God’s presence in their lives, 17 individuals, including an 8-year-old and eight other under the age of 20, were moved by the Holy Spirit to respond to God’s call to inquire about a life in ordained ministry.
Resolutions adopted by the conference
- Resolution in support of global Christianity
- Conference Historic Site’s - Bethel Church in Lewes, Delaware & Old Union Church near Odessa in New Castle County, Delaware
- Resolution in support of a fair living wage in Delaware and Maryland
General Conference lay delegates elected are: Kevin Goodwin and Lawrence Pelham
General Conference clergy delegates are: the Revs. Derrick Porter and Meghan Shitama Weston
Northeastern Jurisdiction lay delegates are: Bill Westbrook and Sam Mitchell
Northeastern Jurisdiction clergy delegates are: the Revs. Robbie Townsend and Vicki Gordy-Stith
The current membership is 79,899, down from 81,143 last year. Worship attendance is 30,003, down from 30,147 last year. Church school attendance was 7,891, down from 8,974. Amount given to missions was $441,027, down from $544,405.
— Doug Lanter, communications coordinator, Peninsula-Delaware Conference.