2017 North Carolina Conference
The North Carolina Annual Conference gathered June 16-18 at the Greenville Convention Center in Greenville, North Carolina. A total of 1,481 people representing 800 churches within eight districts attended.
Bishop Hope Morgan Ward presided over the meeting celebrating the quadrennial theme “Generosity in All Seasons” with an emphasis of “Generosity in All Places.” The worship services and presentations centered on God’s generosity to us and our responding generosity to the world.
Ward preached for two worship services, and keynote speakers included the Rev. Gregory Jones, senior fellow for Leadership Education at Duke Divinity School and Thomas Kemper, top executive of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. Bishop Paul L. Leeland of the Western North Carolina Conference joined Ward as a celebrant for the All Saints/Memorial Service with Holy Communion on June 16. Bishop Leonard Fairley of the Kentucky/Red Bird Missionary Conferences participated in the Ordering of Ministry service on June 18.
On June 17, attendees participated in one of the following workshops:
- Leading Generously
- From Everywhere to Everywhere: Connected in Mission
- Biblical Animation for Workers with Children, Youth, and Adults
- Dismantling Racism
- Youth-Led Ministry: Come and See the Blessings It Brings!
- Disciples with Glad and Generous Hearts
- Stewardship: Providing for the Future Ministry of Your Church
- When Sabbath Comes to Church
- Commission on the Status and Role of Women
Two offerings were received: a special offering for the Mission Endowment Fund totaled $15,535 and a special offering for Laity Ministries totaled $35,694 to be used for Hurricane Matthew recovery in eastern North Carolina.
The opening All Saints Celebration/Memorial/Communion Service focused on the generous witness of 26 clergy and 23 spouses of clergy who died in the past year. Bishop Ward used text from Psalm 73 for her sermon, “The Strength of Our Hearts."
New this year, parts of the conference were streamed via Facebook Live in 360º. View these at:
Other items were posted on social media and attendees were asked to engage using #nccac17. To see the posts, visit the #nccac17 Tagboard.
The conference was blessed with two inspiring and thought-provoking evening programs. The children from Centenary United Methodist Church in New Bern presented the musical “What’s Up, Zak?” on Jun 16 about Zaccheus and Bartimaeus’ encounters with Jesus. On June 17, Mike Wiley presented “Blood Done Sign My Name,” a dramatization he developed from the book by Timothy Tyson. Tyson was present with his father, the Rev. Vernon Tyson, a retired member of the North Carolina Conference, to participate in a question and comment discussion after the program.
In other actions, the conference:
- Approved four resolutions:
- An Action on Climate Change
- Hurricane Matthew Relief: A Call to Care for the Least of These
- Road Conditions in Johnston County, North Carolina
- Resolution regarding Senate Bill 594: Family/Child Protection & Accountability Act
- Approved a change in benefits to the active health insurance plan along with a 7 percent increase in health insurance premiums for persons insured by the self-funded plan;
- Took the vote on the five constitutional amendments received from the 2016 General Conference;
- Increased the per-service year pension rate for the pre-1982 pension plan by 2.5 percent and the retiree health benefits through health reimbursement accounts by 3 percent;
- Amended a committee proposal and then approved a 2 percent increase of minimum salary to $44,686 for full-time pastors and $29,046 for student pastors;
- Celebrated the 90.7 percent of apportionments that were paid in 2016 and that the conference fully paid apportionments to the General and Jurisdictional Church;
- Approved $21,908,352 for the 2019 annual conference budget, a decrease of 1.86 percent from the approved 2018 budget;
- Prayed blessings upon ten persons who will be planting new faith communities in the coming year;
- Saw video presentations highlighting eight unique local church outreach ministries;
- Extended appreciation to the Rev. Terry Hunt for six years of ministry as Coordinator for Leadership Ministries and welcomed the Rev. Ernesto Barriguete to the position of director for Multicultural Ministries.
- Extended appreciation to the Rev. Bill Gattis for his years of service as the executive director for the Academy for Leadership Excellence. Conference members were informed that the Academy was being transitioned into the conference as the Center for Leadership Excellence with Leah Wiebe-Smith serving as the director.
- Observed a time of remembrance on the anniversaries of the violent terrorism at Mother Emmanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and the Pulse Night Club in Orlando, Florida, and for all victims of senseless violence, by singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” as an act of hope and continued prayer for reconciliation.
Twenty-seven retiring pastors were recognized. Twenty-two lay missioners were certified, two deacons were ordained and 19 provisional members were commissioned. Thirty-one local pastors were licensed, and 13 elders in full connection were ordained. The average age of this year’s provisional members and elders is 37.3 years, with the oldest at 57 and the youngest at 27.
Membership stands at 226,323, down 2,288 from 2015.
The average worship attendance for 2016 was 73,156, down 1,247 from 2015.
Church school attendance for 2016 was 30,039, up 381 from 2015.
The number of Professions or reaffirmations of faith for 2016 was 2,359, down 19 from 2015.
The number of adults and young adults in small groups for 2016 was 42,453, up 460 from 2015.
The number of worshippers engaged in mission for 2016 was 61,924, up 13,737 from 2015.
The 2018 North Carolina Annual Conference will be held at the Greenville Convention Center at a date to be determined.
—LeeAnne Thornton, communications strategist, North Carolina Conference.