Annual Conference affirms commitment to global and local missions


 The North Georgia Annual Conference had much to celebrate during its 2013 session. And it did.

As the 147th annual gathering wrapped up, United Methodists across North Georgia made clear their commitment to global outreach and affection for the city of Athens.  
Under the theme Bridges to Mission, the North Georgia Annual Conference celebrated its growing commitment and connections to nations around the world as well as to local outreach efforts.
Bishop Michael Watson presided in the newly renovated Classic Center in Athens, marking his fifth year of service to the North Georgia Episcopal Area. 
During the three days of conference – in addition to the various special meals and gatherings -- 67 units of blood were collected by the Red Cross and 518 cleaning buckets were assembled and an offering of more than $100,000 was collected for Bridges to Mission partnerships.
The conference welcomed 24 international mission partners from The Bahamas, El Salvador, East Africa, Portugal, The Philippines and Russia, plus World Methodist Evangelism and local mission agency Action Ministries.
 At its service of Licensing, Commissioning and Ordination, the North Georgia Conference commissioned six provisional deacons and 12 provisional elders, ordained two deacons in full connection and 18 elders in full connection, and recognized orders of two clergy from other denominations. 
 Twenty-seven retirees were honored at the retirement service.  
 Guest preachers during the week included Bishop Teresa Snorton of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, who reminded the gathering that we each have a spiritual account and we have to keep our faith renewed. Bishop Rodolfo Alfonso Juan of the Manila Episcopal Area preached at the Service of Licensing, Commissioning and Ordination. He challenged the ordinands and commissioners, saying, “It is not about what we can do, but what God can accomplish through us.”
 The conference established a budget of $23,994,749 for 2014, representing a 0.2 percent decrease from 2013. This represents the fifth straight year of a reduced budget. Conference Mission and Ministry budgets comprise 30.1% of the Conference portion of the budget versus 28% in 2013. 
 Membership stands at 362,802, up 3,991 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 126,381, down 1,032 from 2011. There were 6,347 professions of faith, up 526 from the year before. Persons participating in Christian Formation and other small group stands at 141,545, up 5,939 from the previous year. 
  The Annual Conference Planning Committee depends on feedback from the post-conference survey each year as it makes plans for the next Conference. So far they have received nearly 500 responses from attendees of Annual Conference 2013 and responses continue to come in.
Much of the positive feedback was around the fellowship that happens at Annual Conference. 
Ninety-nine percent of respondents thought the theme "Bridges to Mission" was well carried out. 
One respondent wrote: "This was the best one I have attended because it seemed very focused on how we can and are carrying out the mission of the church in the world."
Others hoped the idea of having breakout sessions might be considered again in the future:
"Please use the time for more continuing education type opportunities. Enrich us. Grow us." 
To complete an Annual Conference 2013 survey, visit