Sharma Denise Lewis, the District Superintendent of the Atlanta Decatur Oxford District, will lead the North Georgia delegation at the 2012 General and Jurisdictional conferences.
Lewis, a native of Statesboro, was the first person elected as clergy delegate to the 2012 General Conference and Jurisdictional Conference. She was ordained a Deacon in the North Georgia Conference in 1999 and an Elder in 2002. She was appointed as the District Superintendent of the Atlanta Decatur Oxford District in 2010.
Ballots were taken throughout a full day of conferencing. Laity elected District Lay Leader Jane Finley as its first delegate.
In a day filled with substantial reports, the Annual Conference Task Force recommended that the Annual Conference authorize Bishop Watson to be given authority to evaluate and make changes to Conference administrative staff. The recommendation was approved by the conference.
Wednesday got off to an early start with the running of the Annual Conference 5K. The winner was Brent White, associate pastor at Alpharetta First UMC. Proceeds from the 5K go to the North Georgia Housing and Homeless Council.
For the morning devotion, Ron Davis, associate conference lay leader and member of Kennesaw UMC, brought a moving personal testimony. Robert McMichael and Jarvis Wilson provided the music.
Report of the First Ballot
Clergy had no election. Laity elected Jane Finley, Lyn Powell, Mathew Pinson, Joe M. Whittemore, and Jeff Jernigan.
Conference Treasurer Keith Cox reported that the 2010 membership of the North Georgia Conference was 357,741, up 1,467 from the previous year. Professions of faith were 6,369, down 253 from the previous year. Average worship attendance in 2010 was 126,215.
Total giving was $25,608,092 in 2010, including conference advances, general advance specials, special offerings and apportionments. More than 70 percent of churches paid 100 percent of their apportionments. The district with the highest percentage paid was the Augusta District with 94.4 percent.
Cox explained that unfunded liability continues to be a challenge, though magnitude is not as high as it was last year.
The five-member board is responsible for the management and legal oversight of Simpsonwood Conference and Retreat Center. Year to date, revenue is up and operating expenses are down. Net loss is $327,552.
Imagine No Malaria
Robert Naylor from Imagine No Malaria, which is our Annual Conference special offering this week, thanked the Conference for its support. He explained the initiative as "nets plus," referring to the Nothing But Nets campaign. Imagine No Malaria focuses on training local people to deliver and install life-saving bed nets and teach families to use them properly.
New Church Development
The Conference Office of New Church Development is celebrating 20 years of success in the Wesleyan way by planting new churches and rejuvenating existing churches. Over the past 20 years, the North Georgia Conference has planted 77 new churches and fresh starts and 43 missions. In 2010, new churches received 1,305 professions of faith and 16,716 people worshiped in a new church.
Five new starts constituted in 2010: Arbor Point UMC (Joe McKechnie, pastor), UMC of The Well (Andy Postell, pastor), Church of The Way (Carter McInnis, pastor), Sacred Tapestry (Teresa Angle-Young, pastor, and The Vine (David Walters, pastor)
Connectional Ministries - Denman Awards
Leon Matthews and Winston Worrell presented the Harry Denman Evangelism Awards. Recipients were:
Denman Clergy Award – Michael McQueen of St. James UMC Alpharetta
Denman Laity Award – Maggie Lasher of Trinity UMC Cartersville
Denman Youth Award – Brandon Pennamon of Golden Memorial UMC
The most up-to-date nominations document will be available at www.ngumc.org after annual conference on the website. The document represents 42 pages of people who volunteer their time, service and skills to this annual conference.
Board of Laity
Lay Revitalization ministry is available to consult with churches to improve and enhance the lay ministry in a number of ways.
Georgia Florida United Methodist Federal Credit Union
The Georgia Florida United Methodist Federal Credit Union has expanded again and, as of May, encompasses the North Georgia, South Georgia, Florida and Alabama-West Florida Conferences.
Wesley Woods knows what it means to engage in ministry with poor older adults and has been doing so for more than 50 years. It has been and is at the heart of our mission. Wesley Woods has 10 retirement communities across North Georgia and serves 45,000 people through Wesley Woods Geriatric Centers. Bishop Watson asked the conference to please support the Mother's Day Offering.
Worship Design With Marcia McFee
Marcia McFee, worship designer for General Conference, will be in North Georgia in August and November leading workshops and providing consults to individual churches. Register for these events at www.ngumc.org and click "registrations" or contact Phil Schroeder at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn about consult opportunities.
United Methodist Men
The goal of United Methodist Men is to connect men in North Georgia with spiritual ministry and growth. Walt Stephens presented the Scouting Torch Award to John Crew, a member of Hoosier UMC. Bishops Award of Excellence in Scouting goes to Smith Chapel UMC.
John Moeller, new CEO of Action Ministries, said that Action Ministries took up the mantle of engaging with the poor in 1963, when the agency was formed by this annual conference. Action Ministries extends the work of this annual conference by facilitating ministry with the poor and training church members to be in ministry with the poor.
Sharma Denise Lewis, Jonathon Holston and Jim Cantrell were elected clergy delegates to General Conference. As the first clergy person elected, Lewis will
lead the North Georgia delegation.
Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st century
The Black church Development Task Force has put together a design team of eight lay and eight clergy led by Dr. Fred Allen to support the General Church initiative SBC21. SBC21 designed to assist black churches in search of new ideas and revitalization by providing resources and facilitating intentional exploration and regaining enthusiasm. For more information, visit www.ngumc.org.
General Board of Global Ministries
Adam Neal, mission specialist for GBGM, thanked North Georgia for giving $2.1 million to the Advance last year. When you give to a ministry of GBGM, 100 percent of goes to the ministry you choose. Currently GBGM has a very significant need for support for Global Ministries missionaries and seeks North Georgia's support.
Ballot 3 ResultsPhil Schroeder and Jane Brooks were elected clergy delegates to General Conference. Three laity were elected to General Conference: Bill Stikes, Tonya Murphy and Leon Jourolman.
Annual Conference Task Force
Charged with the purpose of conducting a comprehensive analysis of the North Georgia Conference, the task force has primarily focused on Simpsonwood. Though operating expenses have stabilized, Simpsonwood has no funds to pay down debt or to renovate or improve facilities. Legal council has advised the group that a commercial sale of the property is not in keeping with the deed, but a public sale would be an acceptable alternative. Two public entities are extremely interested in Simpsonwood property: the National Parks Service and Gwinnett County. The task force recommends that we continue to operate as normal and negotiate with National Parks Service and Gwinnett County. Their second recommendation is that the Annual Conference authorize Bishop Watson to evaluate and make changes to Conference administrative staff.
Cindy Blocksidge, chair of the Conference Nurture Team, announced that 39 trainers - at least one in every district - were recently certified. Please call on trainers in your district if your church is not already in compliance. We would like to see our Conference 100 percent compliant.
P. Alice Rogers was elected as a clergy delegate to General Conference.
John Brown, Chair, announced one major change to Equitable Compensation for this year. All parsonages, even those previously grandfathered in, that do not meet minimum requirements are expected to be brought up to standard by 2016.
Aldersgate Homes and Collinswood
Aldersgate Homes is in ministry with persons with developmental disabilities, their families, caregivers, and friends. The agency's main focus is to assist people with special needs to live as independently as possible. Collinswood Retreat Center on Lake Oconee was built to be a universally accessible retreat center. Anyone and everyone can find meeting space, overnight facilities, camping, hiking, and fishing at Collinswood. Collinswood invites you to come take advantage of this gift that has been given to the conference.
New Church Development
Two years ago Bishop Watson gave us the charge to grow the conference at the rate of growth of the population. This charge inspired "All Things New," an initiative designed to help young clergy do new things to reach new people.
Getting a new pastor? Getting a new church? Connectional Ministries wants to help you make a great start! Visit www.ngumc.org and "registration" to sign up.
Refugee Resettlement & Immigration Services of Atlanta
North Georgia Churches are invited to take part in what RRISA calls a "reverse mission trip," by serving refugees from across the globe who have come to North Georgia. In 2010, six North Georgia churches sponsored refugees. For more information, visit www.rrisa.org.
North Georgia United Methodist Children's Home
The Children's Home has 10 different programs to meet the needs of children and families including foster families, transitional living programs, family housing programs, and parenting classes for people in the community. An exciting new direction is called Jesse's House which provides a day program in the summer and afterschool.
Lay Speaking Ministries
Visit the website www.ngumc.org and search "Board of Laity" to see lay speakers in your area. Lay Speaking Ministries offers training, fellowship and opportunities to serve. The District Lay speakers honored Verdery Cunningham for many years of service as the director of lay speaking ministries.
Clergy Ballot 5
Ed Tomlinson and John Simmons were elected as clergy delegates to General Conference.
Tuesday Night Offering
The total from ordination service gifts to go toward the operating expense of Annual Conference was $5,582.25.