2013 Annual Conference: Familiar site, new experience


        The host city will be familiar to regular participants but most everything else about the 2013 Annual Conference next month promises to be a dramatically different experience.
       For the fourteenth time in fifteen years, the Classic Center in Athens will serve as the host site for Annual Conference. But the Classic Center has undergone a dramatic $24-million renovation. In addition to the remade facilities, the sessions themselves will have a different feel as mission partners from around the world gather to provide living testimony to the theme: Bridges to Mission.
         This year’s Annual Conference Special Offering will be used to support the North Georgia Conference Bridges mission partnerships. 
     The greatest need of North Georgia’s six international mission partners is for assistance in leadership training. Your gifts this year will go toward providing training in El Salvador, The Bahamas, Russia, the Philippines, Kenya, and Portugal.  
     You are encouraged to give generously to bring training to the “next level” for our mission partners. Place a check in your church offering plate made out to your church with “Bridges” in the memo line. A representative from your church will then present the check during a special Annual Conference worship service on Wednesday, June 12.
      The logo for Annual Conference, a colorful illustration signifying the multi-faceted outreach efforts emanating from North Georgia, celebrates the global nature of missionary efforts.
        The vibrant logo illustrates the theme in three ways:
We may be members of the North Georgia Conference but the globe represents our parish: the whole world.
The arrows point in the general direction of the six international bridges that we have already established and the homes of the international delegations joining us at Annual Conference this year.
The third element, the people – men and women, young and old, as colorful as the rainbow – are linked together, hand in hand, around the globe. All of us are connected.
            Mission partners from across the globe will be making the trek to Annual Conference at the Classic Center in Athens, to share their stories, answer questions, and strengthen bonds.
       North Georgia launched its first Bridges effort in 2011, focused on Uganda. Since then, the list of Bridges has expanded steadily to include: El Salvador, the Bahamas, Russia, Portugal, the Philippines, Israel, North Georgia (Action Ministries), and World Methodist Evangelism.
       Bridges partners will play a prominent role throughout Annual Conference. In addition to presentations made from the main stage, each of the Bridges will have a display table.
      Wednesday night, June 12, will have no regular conference business on the agenda, The evening is being planned as an everyone-is-welcome, Bridges-focused special event.
        Various districts in the North Georgia Conference will be serving as logistical support (handlers) for the Bridges partners, coordinating arrivals and departures at the airport, transportation and housing, as well as schedules before and after Annual Conference.
      The global missions focus is not the only thing that will be fresh at Annual Conference.
      The Classic Center has undergone a dramatic $24-million renovation.
     The two most dramatic improvements involve the expansion of the Grand Hall, where the majority of Annual Conference is held, and the new climate-controlled atrium, a 8,500-square-foot gathering area between the Grand Hall and the Theatre, where ordination is held.
     The Grand Hall has virtually doubled in size, encompassing 55,000 square feet. The extra space will not only allow for expanded seating but also for a significantly larger stage.
          To register online or for information about hotel availability, pre-conference briefings or hosting a meal at Annual Conference, go to www.ngumc.org.