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2017 Tennessee Annual Conference


The Tennessee Annual Conference met June 11-13 at Brentwood United Methodist Church in Brentwood, Tennessee, with Bishop William “Bill” McAlilly officiating.

This year, the conference began with laity and clergy sessions on Sunday afternoon, June 11. At the clergy session, no openly gay candidates were considered for ministry. Sunday evening worship was livestreamed to selected host churches, which hosted viewing gatherings with dessert and facilitated discussion. This added around 500 lay people to the audience to hear the bishop’s address. The worship team from Gallatin First United Methodist Church delighted the crowd with praise music before and after Bishop McAlilly’s inspiring address to the conference titled, “Sent to Serve.”

On Monday morning, June 12, the Opening Worship service featured communion and the preaching from Rev. Carol Cavin-Dillon who reiterated the theme of being sent. A combined youth choir with teens from Brentwood and Christ United Methodist churches sang during worship under the direction of Ann Hook.

Later in the morning, annual conference members sang “Are We Yet Alive,” and then tended to conference organization including the presentation and approval of a consent agenda. The session then moved into presentations that included the Board of Ordained Ministry, United Methodist General Conference constitutional amendments, conference resolutions, standing rules, Council on Finance and Administration, treasurer’s report, Board of Pensions and Health Plan Committee.

Some statistics were shared during annual conference. Membership in the Tennessee Conference stands at 116,740, which is down 0.4 percent from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 44,257, down by 4 percent. Church school attendance stands at 20,500, down 5.06 percent. Adults and young adults in small groups for 2016 was 30,861, down from 2015 by 1.48 percent.

Increases in the Tennessee Conference included professions of faith and engagement in mission. Professions of faith for 2016 were at 1,735, which is an increase of 9.33 percent from 2015. Worshippers engaged in mission for 2016 was at 24,891, which is up from 2015 by 11.60 percent.

The afternoon included farewells during the Memorial Service with preacher, the Rev. John H. Collett Jr., and at the Service of Celebration and Retirement, which followed. Nineteen retirements were celebrated.

Presentations in the late afternoon included Next Gen Discipleship, Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministries, and Martin Methodist College, which introduced its new president to the annual conference. Then, the proceedings closed with presentations from the Black College Fund and Lina H. McCord Ambassador, Camp and Retreat Ministries, and Miriam’s Promise. The evening was free to allow for continued fellowship and rest.

The final day of the annual conference began with the laity address from Holly Neal, conference lay leader, followed by two learning sessions led by the Rev. Scott Chrostek, author of “The Misfit Mission” and pastor of the downtown campus of Church of the Resurrection (Resurrection Downtown) in Kansas.

The learning sessions were interactive with those in the pews given the opportunity and tools to apply and discuss Chrostek’s points with one another.

Chrostek emphasized that the church is not something just for people to go to. “The church’s mission is to go and do! The work of the church happens most often outside of church walls.” He shared five principles that guide the mission and ministry at Resurrection Downtown, based on the acronym FOCUS:

Focus on always intentionally looking at the world around us.
Own it: our circles of influence and comfortable places.
Create a culture of invitation.
Use all available media by connecting with as many people as possible and going where people are.
Stay open to interruptions.

During the business sessions, additional reports were presented: United Methodist Endorsing Agency, Pacto, the Nominations and Episcopacy committees.

Also, annual conference members presented opinions for and against several items that were considered for votes. These included standing rules revisions, Council on Finance and Administration recommendations and apportioned budget, conference resolutions, and Cabinet Resolutions. All but one of these proposed recommendations and resolutions were approved.

Conference Secretary Monica Mowdy then presented constitution changes proposed by the United Methodist General Conference. Questions were answered and statements for and against were presented. A secret ballot vote was taken. The results will not be publicized until all United Methodist conferences have voted.

The late afternoon session included a heartfelt presentation by Bishop McAlilly about the Commission on the Way Forward and what lies ahead for us in The United Methodist Church.

This session ended with everyone remembering their baptism with the waters from the rivers in our new districts. The new districts are Caney Fork River District, Cumberland River District, Harpeth River District, Red River District and Stones River District. District superintendents and lay leaders from the new districts brought forth containers of water that were mixed together, then poured into bowls by the Rev. Melinda Britt, director of connectional ministries, who invited those present to come to the waters before leaving the session.

On Tuesday evening, families and friends joined conference members for the Service of Licensing, Commissioning, and Ordination.

Bishop William T. McAlilly gave the sermon, “We Make Our Way By Walking.” Music included choir members from Belmont, Nashville; Madison Street, Clarksville; Wesley Foundation, Tennessee State University; and First, Crossville.

Six elders were ordained: The Revs. Christopher David Allen, Erica Jane Allen, Adam Ross Kelchner, Heather Pennington Harriss, Angelia Marie Trimmer and Sommer Rose Worley. One deacon was ordained: The Rev. Gracie Nicole Dugan. The average age of those in this group was 37.

One was commissioned as United Methodist missionary: Lilia Ramirez.

Four were commissioned as provisional deacons: The Revs. Celia Ann Finfrock, Margaret Ann Jarrell, Carlisle White Jones and Sarah Elizabeth McWhirt-Toler. Seven were commissioned as provisional elders: The Revs. David Brandon Baxter, Roger Presley Brown, Krislyn Page Durham, Stacy Gonzalez, Seonwoong Hwang, Theresa Ann Johnson  and Margaret Houck Platts. The average age of those in this group was 33.

Twenty-three were presented licenses for pastoral ministry. No one received Associate Membership.

The 2017 Tennessee Annual Conference was adjourned at the close of the ordination service on Tuesday evening, June 13.

— Amy J. Hurd, director of communications, Tennessee Conference