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2017 Kentucky Annual Conference

 

The 2017 Kentucky Annual Conference took place June 12-14 at the Sloan Convention Center in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Bishop Leonard Fairley officiated.

Our time in Bowling Green began with three pre-conference events.

The Archives and History seminar was held at Sloan Convention Center, and the focus this year was on the history of our sister denomination, the African Methodist Episcopal church, including background on Bishop Henry McNeil Turner and the Colonization movement.

The 5K Run for the Children was held for the second year at Chaney's Dairy Barn. This year 88 runners and walkers completed the scenic course. Winners in each category were awarded plaques, and more than $7,000 was raised to benefit Kentucky United Methodist Homes for Children and Youth.

Our final pre-conference event was a gathering of our young clergy and laity. The event gave those in attendance an opportunity to gather to share their passion, callings, and experiences.

Our opening day of conference began with a meeting of clergywomen from throughout the conference. The Clergy Executive session and the laity session were held concurrently at different locations. During the clergy session those being ordained and commissioned were given final affirmation.

Retired Bishop Al Gwinn preached the opening worship where he reminded us to allow the Lord to open our eyes to all the joys and opportunities surrounding us. “Pride will blind you from seeing the things of God,” he preached. “Fear can keep you from seeing what you need to see in the possibilities.”

Next, the organizing plenary session was convened, and Annual Conference 2017 was officially under way!

During our opening plenary session, the body was reminded of our Kentucky Conference mission and purpose, “To Discover, Develop and Send passionate spiritual leaders and resources to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”

During the memorial service we recognized 20 clergy and eight spouses who passed since our last annual conference session. The Rev. Paige Williams, pastor of Hopkinsville First United Methodist Church in Pennyrile District, preached the service. The sermon reminded us that even in times of mourning a time of rejoicing will soon come.

That night, Bishop Fairley presided over the Service of Commissioning and Ordination. Bishop Fairley preached on the theme, “Theotokos (D.R.P), which means Designated Religious Person, or God-Bearer.” The service was full of the symbols of ministry: the towel and basin, the paten and cup, the water of baptism and the cross of Christ who calls people into ordained ministry. Clergy and family members stood in support of those being commissioned and ordained.

The overall average age of all 20 people commissioned and ordained is 36.8. The average age of those commissioned is 36.2. The average age of those ordained is 37.4.

One person was commissioned on the deacon track and nine people were commissioned on the elder track. One clergyperson was ordained as deacon and nine clergy were ordained as elders.

Tuesday began with Bible study led by the Rev. John Edgar, who taught on the “Divine Economy of Abundance.” Edgar is the pastor of Church for All People in Columbus, Ohio.

Tuesday also saw our celebration of those retiring from the active ministry and our Mission celebration. At our retirement celebration, we paid homage to 19 retiring clergy. A symbolic mantle was passed from a member of the retiring class of clergy to a member of the class of clergy who was ordained the night before.

During our mission service, $79,000 was raised to sponsor scholarships to our Kentucky Conference summer camps and to help Belize start a camping ministry.

Aldersgate Camp and Retreat Center and Loucon Training and Retreat Center will each receive 25 percent of the offering to fund summer camp scholarships. Kavanaugh Life Enrichment Center is developing a summer mission program called Mission Basecamp, which will receive 10 percent  of the offering. Our missionaries in Belize, Jamie and Lisa Williams, are working to develop a camp and retreat center there, so their ministry will receive 10 percent of the offering. The remaining 30 percent will fund scholarships for children and youth from the Red Bird Missionary Conference to attend Kentucky Conference camps (Red Bird’s camp recently closed).

Tuesday was also our day of service. More than 650 people participated at 19 locations throughout Bowling Green. The projects ranged from cleaning community parks, to writing Agape Letters, to visiting nursing home residents to assembling more than 2,200 heath kits for the United Methodist Committee on Relief. Many hands worked to show Christ’s love throughout the community.

On our final day of conferencing, we continued Bible study with Edgar. Then we moved into our final plenary session where our budget of about $7.2 million was approved. The budget reflects an 11 percent apportionment rate for our local churches.

Annual conference members also voted on five amendments to the denomination’s constitution that had been approved by General Conference 2016.  

As the conference attendees sat by districts, Holy Communion was served, and appointments were read. As appointments were read, district lay leaders offered prayers for the newly appointed.

All in all it was a wonderful time of holy conferencing.

Membership stands at 150,656, down 660 from the previous year.

Worship attendance stands at 50,447, down 1,862.

Church school attendance stands at 21,194, down 1,317.

Professions and reaffirmations of faith for 2016 1,655, down 299 from 1,954 in 2015.

Adults and young adults in small groups for 2016 is 2,019, down 113 from 2,044 in 2015.

Worshippers engaged in mission for 2016 is 17,350, up 1,440 from the 15,910 in 2015.

What did your annual conference do to reinforce the Four Areas of Focus, and what commitments has the conference made for the coming year: 

  • Our Mission Offering will go to help children that have financial need be able to participate in the church camp experience
  • Our budget makes a continuing commitment to New Church Development and that department’s commitment to building new places for new people as well as to the continued development of existing churches.  
  • Developing principled Christian leaders continues to be the main focus of our conference and this is apparent through the work of many of our teams and in our conference budget   

— Cathy Bruce, associate director of connectional ministries and communications