Focus turns toward Annual Conference in Athens


        Now that General Conference in Tampa has come to a close, North Georgia United Methodists turn their full attention to next month’s Annual Conference in Athens.
    The theme for the 2012 event is “Seeing the World Through the Waters of Baptism.” It will be the thirteenth time in 14 years that the event has been held at the Classic Center in downtown Athens.
    Elements of our 2012 logo include four visuals:
•   The globe reminds us of John Wesley’s words “the world is our parish.” As United Methodists we are called to continue Wesley’s passion to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. This also reinforces the importance of the 2012 Mission Offering that supports World Methodist Evangelism.
•   Ripples of water that cover the globe are symbolic of the baptismal covenant that brings hope and healing to a hurting and broken world. We are reminded of our own baptism and our call to witness to the world.
•   The dove above the globe reminds us not only of the dove that descended at Jesus’ own baptism, but it also reminds us of the spirit of God that brought order out of chaos in the creation story of Genesis 1:2.
•   Hands remind us of our corporate and personal witness. We are called to greet the world with open hands, rejoicing in acts of Christian hospitality and invitation.
    In seeing the world through the waters of baptism, as laity and clergy, we remember our own baptism and our call into ministry. Baptism calls us into many different ministry functions in the life of the Church. It is in this call to leadership that there is a corporate and personal witness that reaches out to neighbors, near and far.
    Bishop Mike Watson, who will serve as the Chair of World Methodist Evangelism for the next five years, is calling for a special offering to support the effort.
   “As we prepare to gather as an Annual Conference from June 12 through 14 this year, we have the opportunity to give through this year’s Special Annual Conference Offering which will support the powerful global ministry of World Methodist Evangelism,” Bishop Watson wrote recently. “I am making this special appeal for you to do all that you can do to enable your congregation to contribute significantly to this year’s special offering so that it can be presented during the Annual Conference Session in Athens.”
   In addition, Dr. Eddie Fox, World Director of World Methodist Evangelism, will be preaching:
•  the opening worship session on Tuesday afternoon;
•  the Service of Ordination/Commissioning on Tuesday evening;
•  the final session on Thursday afternoon.
   Bishop Watson, in highlighting both the local and global nature of evangelism, recently wrote: “We can multiply the witnesses of Christ Jesus through connecting congregations, connecting with evangelists, international Christian youth conferences on evangelism, faith-sharing initiatives and resources, training leaders through regional evangelism seminars in every part of the world, and inspiring young clergy through The Order of the Flame (Faithful, Leaders As Mission Evangelists) events to ‘do the work of an evangelist, to carry out the ministry fully.’ (2 Timothy 4:5).”
   Online registration for Annual Conference is now available at All active clergy and lay members are required to register.
   Photos will be taken of all clergy, active and retired, during Annual Conference to be used for a pictorial directory. Photographers will be available: 1-6 p.m. on June 11; 7:30-a.m.-6 p.m. on June 12-13; and 7:30 a.m.-2 p.m. on June 14.  
   The deadline to request display table space is May 23. A separate application must be submitted for each group requesting a tabletop display. There will be no sharing of table space with other groups unless applications have been submitted and approved. Tables are 2.5-feet wide by 8-feet. Tables and table skirts are provided by the Classic Center. To request table space, or for more information, go to
   The Quest Diagnostics Blueprint for Wellness screenings will be held 6:30-10:30 a.m. each day of Annual Conference in the Parthenon II room. Screenings involve a blood sample and a few quick measurements to evaluate more than 30 health factors. You can also earn $100 in HealthCash. 
   Volunteers are needed to assist as greeters, with tote-bag assembly, registration check-in, parking assistance, blood drive attendents, and van drivers. To volunteer, see the online registration form at
   “For the last forty years, World Methodist Evangelism has labored to see the Methodist movement alive, vibrant, growing and yearning to spread the good news of Christ Jesus throughout the whole world through word, deed, and sign that the world may know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior,” Bishop Watson wrote recently. “This is a holy calling and it is still our calling today!”