2015 South Georgia Conference
The 2015 South Georgia Annual Conference session was marked by ballots and bonding.
Held June 3- 6 at the University of Georgia Tifton Conference Center, more than 1,000 United Methodist clergy and laity gathered to conference in the Wesleyan tradition and elect delegates to the 2016 General and Jurisdictional Conferences.
Meeting under the theme “We’re Better Together” from Matthew 18:20, this year’s Annual Conference session emphasized the value of fellowship.
During opening worship, Bishop James R. King introduced the theme and stressed the importance of Christian community.
“Our theme is ‘We’re Better Together.’ Hear this – it’s a big deal,” King said. “Big deals are relative. For some, it’s a big deal to learn to ride a bike. For others it’s a big deal to learn to drive a car. For Christians, there’s one thing that is a big deal that is the same for us all, all the time. It’s that God so loved the world that Jesus Christ would die for our salvation.
“Be in Christian fellowship. Now that’s a big deal!”
Delegates to the 2016 General and Jurisdictional Conferences were elected:
General Conference clergy delegates: The Revs. Don Adams, Buddy Cooper, Jay Hanson and
General Conference lay delegates: Bill Hatcher, Allison Lindsey, Larry Price
and Carl Childs
Jurisdictional Conference clergy delegates: The Revs. Jim Cowart, Denise Walton, Scott Hagan and Robert Beckum
Clergy alternates: Doreen Smalls and Stacey Harwell-Dye
Jurisdictional Conference lay delegates: Marianne Wright, Richard Shinhoster, Kelly Roberson and Miriam Hagan
Lay alternates: Gloria Morgan and Rus Black
In other action, conference members:
- Heard the Lay Leader's Address given by Gloria Morgan in which she reminded attendees that “the journey is one that requires devotion, dedication, and discipline to be effective in the work we are called to do.”
- Bishop Jonathan Keaton, episcopal leader of the Illinois Area, preached during the ordination service and reminded conference members of the demanding call of Jesus in ministry and discipleship. "In ministry Jesus always wants more...but we are promised by the Apostle Paul that we can do all things through the strength only Jesus can provide."
- The Rev. Ronnie Wills remembered those who have died. “When we are a part of the church and the Father's business we are not alone.”
- Christine Pohl, associate provost and professor of Church and Society/Christian Ethics at Asbury Seminary, led three teaching moments. During her second teaching moment, she reminded attendees that every community is held together by the promises made to one another. “Speaking truth in love means speaking of the goodness and grace we see,” she said.
- Collected over $29,000 in support of South Georgia Wesley Foundations.
- Were reminded of Wesleyan roots through two “John Wesley Moments” given by Rev. Dave Hanson.
- Celebrated the ministry of New and Revitalized Congregational Development.
- Recognized Porterfield United Methodist Church in Albany as the church with the largest net gain in membership; The Ridge in Columbus with the largest number of professions of faith; and Dixie United Methodist Church with the best ratio of professions of faith in the conference.
- Recognized Isle of Hope United Methodist Church as giving the highest total amount to missions and Chula United Methodist Church as the highest per capita given to missions.
- Honored 59 Five Star and 157 Four Star Pastors for 2015.
- Supported the conference’s local mission agencies, donating toiletries, school supplies, puzzles, baby wipes and more to Magnolia Manor, the Methodist Children’s Home, Open Door Community Center, Vashti, Wesley Community Centers and Wesley Glen.
- Sorted and bagged 15,650 pounds of cabbage, cucumbers, corn and cantaloupes on during the Art Shoemaker Memorial Crop Drop mission event.
- Approved a $10,336,776 million budget for mission and ministry for the next year.
Two provisional elders were commissioned and three people were ordained as provisional deacons. Three elders and two deacons were ordained. The average age of those being ordained and/or commissioned is 39.
Twenty-two pastors retired, and six were recognized for achieving their 50th anniversary in ministry. Thirty-nine clergy and clergy spouses who died in the past year were remembered during the memorial service.
Annual Conference 2015 ended with a Service of Sending Forth as Bishop King encouraged each person to be the light of the world. "You are the hope for a better day; hope for a better world," said Bishop King. "Together we are better together."
Following his message, the names of those receiving a new appointment were read. The clergy appointments for 2015-2016 may be found online here.
Membership stands at 118,712, down 3,278 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 49,358, down 27. Church school attendance stands at 33,129, up 2,302 from 2013.
The 2016 Annual Conference session will be held June 8-11, in Tifton, Georgia.
—Kelly H. Roberson, director of communications, South Georgia Conference.