Now we go forth, united in our mission, to transform the world


       A Methodist Annual Conference Session is a wonderful experience because people who love the Lord Jesus Christ and faithfully seek to serve God through hundreds of local churches in a relatively small geographical area gather in one place to worship, pray, study, fellowship, vote, credential clergy, celebrate mission and ministry, plan for the future, and then go forth to continue to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Holy conferencing has been the Methodist tradition from our earliest days, and it connects Methodist people all over the world.
       This year the North Georgia Annual Conference gathered together around the theme of "Engaging in Ministry with the Poor."  This theme is one we share with all Methodist people since the days of John Wesley, our beloved father in the faith. We reminded ourselves about who we are as people who share the love of God with marginalized and vulnerable people whenever and wherever we minister in the name of Jesus Christ. Ministry with the poor also has been the Methodist tradition from our earliest days and connects Methodist people all over the world.
       I wish that each of the more than 360,000 United Methodists in the local churches that make up our Annual Conference could have been present at our yearly gathering. Wouldn't that have been a glorious celebration! However, every one of those members was represented by the nearly 3,000 who were elected to attend. I hope that you will join me in prayer that everything we did and said in this year's session in Athens was pleasing in God's sight, was inspiring to those present, and will enable all North Georgia United Methodist Christians to serve Christ more effectively in the upcoming year.
    The world desperately needs to be transformed because it is broken and troubled.  Our gloriously exciting role as the church is to offer Christ's mission and ministry through spiritual and humanitarian care to all people regardless of their human condition. There is no greater hope for peace and healing throughout the world than for all people to become disciples of the Prince of Peace, the Great Physician, to accept God's redeeming and reconciling love for themselves and to share that wondrously divine love with each other every day.
     May our Annual Conference Session this year be a new beginning in Christian disciple-making and world transformation. Dear God, let it be! 
Grace and peace, 
Mike Watson
Resident Bishop
North Georgia Episcopal Area
The United Methodist Church