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2016 Texas Annual Conference

 

Name of conference: Texas Annual Conference

Location of conference gathering: Hilton Americas, Houston

Dates of conference gathering: May 29 – June 1, 2016

Officiating bishop: Janice Riggle Huie

Guest speakers: The Rev. Ruben Saenz, Bishop Cynthia Harvey, the Rev. Tom Berlin

Memorable points or quotes by speakers:

“Lead in a way where we can be unleashed by the Holy Spirit, willing to forego distractions and remember who we are and whose we are.” — Bishop Harvey presentation on Leadership

“We have fiery liberals and tea party conservatives in our church, but when it comes to blessing children, we get our focus on where God is heading, and we quickly see that this work is changing each of us as much as it is changing the children.” — The Rev. Tom Berlin in his presentation on Investing in the Young on the impact of his church’s work in their local school.

“I would first ask churches to look around and see who your neighbors are, and pursue relationships of engagement to share gifts and graces that are beneficial to make you better together than apart.” — The Rev. Ruben Saenz on building multicultural congregations and reaching our neighbors in a presentation on growing vibrant congregations.

Main actions enacted by the conference:

Texas Conference/Justice for Our Neighbors Memorandum of Understanding was approved that affirms this United Methodist hospitality ministry to our immigrant brothers and sisters as an affiliated organization birthed by the Texas Conference.

The Missions Endowment documentation was updated so that the funds can now be accessed for mission and the Mission Endowment was adopted as the Advance Special for 2017.

Over $17,000 was collected in response to the mission focus: Back to School on the Border to help schoolchildren in great need on both the U.S. and Mexico side of the Texas border.

Amendment to the apportionment formula:

            Two additional deductible categories (new items):

  • Program expenses paid
  • Non-Clergy staff expenditures

Created new Investment Committee to oversee investments.

Resolutions adopted by the conference:

“One resolution on the topic of unity challenges leaders to find ways to come together around major and controversial issues in a way that focuses on unity and diminishes what can typically be divisive,” he shares. The conference also voted to approve the historical site recognition for St. Paul United Methodist Church, Port Arthur and changed the wording on one of the rules within the nominations process. “Basically, the vote endorsed the resolution to tweak the wording on the nomination substitution process to maintain and expand diversity as it relates to age, ethnicity and clergy/lay mix.”

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

Leadership: Continued investment in Emerging Leaders Initiative (increased endowment to support all four programs: Texas Youth Academy for high schoolers, College Internship program, Ambassador’s grants for seminary tuition reimbursement and the Advancing Pastoral Leadership program for a cohort of promising pastors with 30 years left in their service to The United Methodist Church.

Ministry with Poor: The Memorandum of Understanding with Justice for Our Neighbors to establish two immigration service centers within the conference.

Global Health: continue support of Imagine No Malaria

Congregations: 46 congregations engaged in Vibrant Church Initiative

Number of people ordained, commissioned or received into associate membership, and average age: 38 individuals average age is 38

Number of people retired: 28

Membership stands at 282,139, down 285,646 from the previous year.

Worship attendance stands at 100,098, down 103,342.

Church school attendance stands at 35,747, down 38,882.

Professions or reaffirmations of faith for 2015: 4,706, up from 4,649 in 2014.

Adults and young adults in small groups for 2015: 93,465, up from 92,152 in 2014.

Worshippers engaged in mission for 2015: 59,410, up from 50,255 in 2014.

Source: Paula Arnold, director of communications, Texas Annual Conference