Dakotas Annual Conference 2009
While main topics of the 2009 Dakotas Annual Conference were the 32 proposed amendments to the constitution, the disaster recovery efforts after last winter/springs blizzards and floods were never far from attendees’ minds.
The 32 proposed Constitutional Amendments were at the heart of conference conversation. Much discussion and anticipation preceded the final vote. Questions over the format of the ballot and the language of several of the amendments brought spirited responses from those in attendance.
The votes will be tabulated with all the other individuals who voted in all the other annual conference. The amendments will need a 2/3 count of the aggregate of the general church to pass. The conference approved Amendments 8, 9, 15, 17, 19 and 22 and tied in votes for Amendment 1.
In addition to the amendments, the conference considered the report of the Romans 12 task force. Romans 12 aims to help the conference become more "nimble." The task force brought six recommendations, which were discussed during the legislative session and on the conference floor.
Bill Bates of the Romans 12 committee moved, "That the Annual Conference adopt the Statement on Lay Ministry Teams.” After an in-depth discussion, the voting body agreed to convene a special annual conference to deal with Romans 12 proposal on Nov. 20-21.
In addition to the amendments and the Romans 12 topics, one of the featured areas of discussion was the disaster relief effort within the Dakotas Conference stemming from the blizzards and floods of the past season. The damage done to the Dakotas United Methodist camp locations and the necessary repairs to make them habitable and safe would have exhausted the budget for the year. Because of financial concerns, $100,000 of the proceeds from the sale of the Bismarck parsonage will be earmarked for the camp improvement line item
One of the conference highlights was the June 5 “Hands on Ministry” time. Conference participants carried the theme “And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deed” to the streets where they helped with various ministries. Some remained at the hotel to put together kits.
Bishop Deborah Kiesey led the way by spending several hours at the Western South Dakota Community Action Agency. Kiesey and eight volunteers helped salvage food by sorting through boxes of donated food goods. The Western South Dakota Community Action Agency sorts, provides and distributes purchased and donated food to thousands of people in Bennett, Butte, Corson, Custer, Dewey, Fall River, Haakon, Harding, Jackson, Lawrence, Meade, Pennington, Perkins and Zieback counties. The Rapid City center serves as a distribution hub for several others centers serving almost the entire western half of South Dakota. The agency not only provides food to help families battle hunger, it also aids in making homes more livable by weather proofing, installing furnaces or air conditioning units and providing clothing to those in need.
The Dakotas conference celebrated with an ordination service held at Rapid City First Church with Bishop Kiesey preaching and recent retirees helping. Those commissioned included: Jeff Adel, Andrew J. Bartel, Mark Walter Britton, Thomas E. Bowsher, Jenene Earl, Gwen Ellen Mader. Those ordained elder included: Judy Lee Banwart, Duane Coates, Jeff Levy, Brandon John Vetter.
Membership stands at 39,379 down 889 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 20,471 down 635. Church school attendance stands at 6,480 down 252.