Annual Conference 2021 Update

6/4/2021

The 155th North Georgia Annual Conference was joyful and productive.

The Conference began Thursday, June 3, with the Clergy Executive Session. The clergy of the North Georgia Conference met virtually to approve the Business of the Annual Conference report, hear updates from the Orders, and affirm their covenant community.

On Friday, June 4, North Georgia United Methodists gathered online for our annual time of holy conferencing. Meeting virtually from across the Conference, members conducted the business of the church in a full one-day agenda. With Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson presiding, leaders were elected, appointments were set, resolutions were passed, retirees were celebrated, reports were presented, a budget was adopted, scripture was read, and prayers were said. The Clergy Executive Session and the Business Sessions utilized a secure meeting and voting platform.

On Saturday, June 5, the Conference worshipped online and in-person celebrating ministry and celebrating lives well lived. 

The theme "Love is Making Room," was illustrated through large painted banners flanked by wooden hearts featuring photos from 700 North Georgia Conference churches showing love in action in the past year. 

Worship


Rev. Dr. Richard Winn preaches at the 2021 Service of Remembrance
 
Service of Licensing, Commissioning, and Ordination
Saturday, June 5, the Annual Conference held the Service of Licensing, Commissioning, and Ordination for the 2020 and 2021 classes of ordinands and provisional members. More than 50 people called and equipped to serve God through ordained ministry through The United Methodist Church were ordained and commissioned today.

We celebrated the commissioning of 3 provisional deacons, 21 provisional elders, and the ordination of 5 full connection deacons, 22 full connection elders, and one transfer of order from deacon to elder. May they each go forth to serve the world! 

In 2019, Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson invited Rev. Dr. Glenn Ethridge to preach the 2020 ordination service before that service was postponed. Glenn was battling cancer, and after taking leave he preached a final sermon at Oak Grove UMC in Atlanta. Glenn passed away in November of 2020. His last sermon at Oak Grove was as much an ordination sermon as a parting sermon to a beloved congregation. 

Thank you to the Ethridge Family and to Oak Grove UMC for permission to share that sermon as our ordination sermon today. 

In the sermon, titled Three Stones, Rev. Dr. Ethridge called on the congregation to be like David — make sure your Goliath is big enough (God-sized callings mean Goliath-sized challenges), refuse to wear other people’s armor (your call is from God, not the world), and know that you only get three stones (your gifts), so use them well and use them wisely. 

See the full list of ordinands, and watch the recording when it is available, at www.ngumc.org/2021-service-of-ordination

Service of Remembrance 
More than 100 names were called and bell tolled in the 2021 Service of Remembrance. The honored saints represent North Georgia Conference clergy, clergy spouses, and lay leadership who passed away between April 16, 2019 and April 30, 2021.

In a sermon titled "Trusting Jesus in Trying Times," Rev. Dr. Richard Winn reminded the congregation in person and online that God created and sustains us. God did not stop after the creation, he sent his son Jesus Christ to redeem us. 

"Remember the good and remember the grand stuff," said Winn. "They were loyal to God. They had strength in trying times."

See the Bulletin, and watch the recording when it is available, at https://www.ngumc.org/2021-service-of-remembrance.

Annual Conference Business Sessions


Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson

Opening Message
WATCH OPENING MESSAGE
Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson opened the session with a message of encouragement based on Acts 16:6-10. 

"Be creative, be praying, see where the Holy Spirit leads you," said Bishop Sue, calling North Georgia United Methodists to a season of spiritual renewal.

"We have a world that is hurting and hungry for a word of hope and a word of grace," she said, encouraging us to gather to study scripture, to pray, and to share Christ with others. 

"Practice faith sharing, write out your faith journey," she said. "Jesus Christ saved my life, Jesus Christ orders my life, and I want churches to introduce people to Jesus Christ."

She commended the book "Autopsy of a Deceased Church" by Thom Rainer to church leaders. The book identifies consistent themes among those churches that have died. Yet, those themes offer helpful guidance on how to keep a church healthy and fruitful.

"Thank you for being salt and light in your communities," said Bishop Sue. "I thank you from the bottom of my heart."

Music 
Music for the Annual Conference session was recorded in advance at Glisson Camp and Retreat Center. Thank you to Conference Worship Coordinator Michael Dauterman; Alva Rowland, vocals; Ashley Herring, vocals; Michael Browning, vocals; Chris Gillespie, keyboard; Jerome Stephens, Jr., bass; J LaToiya Hester, drums; Will Buthod, piano, Music Director.

Conference Board of Trustees  
WATCH TRUSTEES REPORT
The Conference Board of Trustees is charged with determining best stewardship practices for conference funds. John Simmons, Chair of the Conference Trustees presented the report, outlining some of the ways good stewardship is in action in the North Georgia Conference.

The Board celebrated that through the Park Eye Fund, 46 children and young adults have or will receive the gift of sight through treatments from the Emory Eye Center that they would not otherwise be able to afford. 

The Annual Conference voted to allow North Georgia Camp & Retreat Ministries to reallocate the Wesley Campership Fund to become part of the NGCRM Capital Endowment. This fund of nearly $3 million dollars will offer significant advancement of this necessary endowment. 

The Board of Trustees presented a path to disaffiliation that was established by the 2019 General Conference of The United Methodist Church. Paragraph 2553 of the Book of Discipline identifies and charges the Conference Trustees with oversight of terms and conditions of disaffiliation from The United Methodist Church.

This Process and the subsequent Disaffiliation Agreement both follow paragraph 2553 of the 2019 Book of Discipline. The documents are complementary explanations of the process and the order in which the process shall proceed. The steps are presented in chronological order and include the instructions that to proceed, a two-thirds majority of the professing members of the local church present and voting at the church conference approve the resolution. The resolution must then be ratified by the members of the North Georgia Annual Conference. 

Prior to the disaffiliation date, a local church shall pay to the Annual Conference any unpaid apportionments for the 12 months immediately prior and an additional 12 months of apportionments, plus unfunded pension obligations, direct-bill obligations, and other liabilities. A local church must be in good standing as a United Methodist Church in order to disaffiliate with The United Methodist Church. 

The timing of the presentation of this plan is in relation to the April 16, 2021, Judicial Council ruling affirming the legality of the vote by the 2019 General Conference. The Trustees present this plan now that the validity of the paragraph has been clarified.  

Read the full report of the Conference Board of Trustees in the 2021 North Georgia Annual Conference Handbook
        
Update on Barnes Fund/BEAT 
WATCH UPDATE
Rev. Dr. Steven Usry celebrated the progress made in just one year since the members of the 2020 Annual Conference launched the Barnes Evaluation and Administration Team. What might God be calling your church to do? Learn more at ngumc.org/BEAT

Conference Board of Pension/Health Benefits
The Conference Board of Pension & Health Benefits works closely with Wespath Benefits and Investments to provide pensions, welfare plans, and health insurance to conference clergy and staff. Charles Darden, Chair of the Conference Board of Pension, presented the report along with recurring recommendations and new recommendations that were adopted by the Annual Conference. Read the full report in the 2021 North Georgia Annual Conference Handbook

Commission on Equitable Compensation    
The work of the Commission of Equitable Compensation is to provide guidelines and standards for both our churches and our full-time clergy by recommending conference standards for pastoral support. The members of the Annual Conference approved recommendations presented by chair, Kathy Lamon. Read the full report in the 2021 North Georgia Annual Conference Handbook
 
Future Dates & Sites of Annual Conference  
For information and planning purposes, Conference Secretary Donn Ann Weber shared the future dates of the North Georgia Annual Conference session at The Classic Center in Athens, Georgia. Those dates are:
  • 2022: June 2 – 4, 2022 (Thursday – Saturday)
  • 2023: May 31, June 1 – 3, 2022 (Wednesday-Saturday)
  • 2024: June 13 – 15, 2024 (Thursday – Saturday)
  • 2025: June 12-14, 2025 (Thursday – Saturday)
Resolutions      
The North Georgia Annual Conference approved three resolutions. Stacey Rushing, chair of the committee on resolutions, presented on behalf of the writers of the resolutions. Read the resolutions in the 2021 North Georgia Annual Conference Handbook
  • Resolution Recognizing Our Role in Segregation and the Central Jurisdiction
  • Resolution Reducing Suicide Among At-Risk Native Americans
  • Resolution in Support of the Protocol of Grace and Reconciliation Through Separation                                      
Reflections from Laity      
WATCH LAITY REFLECTION
Session two of the Annual Conference began with a time of reflection and celebration from Bill Martin, Conference Lay Leader, and Nate Abrams, incoming Conference Lay Leader. They lifted up laity living their faith every day and showing God's love to their communities over the past year and encouraged North Georgia United Methodists to be the light of the world. 

Prayers
Each session opened and closed with prayers from lay members from across the Annual Conference, Nelson Vargas of Norcross First UMC, Bennett Abrams of Bethany UMC, Rachel Fullerton, Embry Hills UMC, and Grace Pyen of Korean UMC of Atlanta each offered a prayer for the Conference. 
 
Council on Finance and Administration        
WATCH CF&A REPORT
Bill Burch, Chair of the Conference Council on Finance and Administration, shared that North Georgia United Methodists paid 90 percent of apportionments in 2020. Over the past three years budget has been reduced significantly. CF&A continues to take a conservative approach to the budget by reducing budget line items and utilizing reserve funds. The 2022 budget reflects an additional reduction of 5 percent over the 2021 budget. The reductions have allowed more resources to remain at the local church level. The Annual Conference approved recommendations of the Council on Finance and Administration and approved a budget of $17,099,834. 
 
Committee on Nominations    
The Conference Committee on Nominations presented the 2021-2022 nominations report. That report was approved and nominees now become the members of the boards, committees, and commissions of the North Georgia Annual Conference. Please email corrections to the report to mbrown@ngumc.org. Once corrections are completed, the final report will be posted at ngumc.org. 
 
Proposal to Consolidate Board of Discipleship and Board of Church Development
WATCH PROPOSAL REPORT
The North Georgia Conference adopted a proposal to consolidate the work and ministries of the Board of Discipleship and Advocacy and the Board of Church Development. Learn more about this consolidation at www.ngumc.org/committeestructure.

Property Closure Resolutions
Jim Thornton, Conference Chancellor, presented resolutions on the closure of 8 churches. This is always a somber time for the Conference and a time to lift up our faith in God's promise of resurrection. The churches are:
  • Faith Riverdale United Methodist Church, Central North District
  • Redemption Community Church (formerly St Matthew United Methodist Church), Central North District
  • Mt. Calvary United Methodist Church Lawrenceville, Central East District
  • Faith Creek United Methodist Church, South West District
  • Grantville First United Methodist Church, South West District
  • White Oak United Methodist Church, South East District
  • Rocky Head United Methodist Church, Central North District
  • Mt. Tabor United Methodist Church Dallas, Central West District
Committee on Standing Rules
The members of the Annual Conference approved all changes to the Standing Rules as presented in the Annual Conference Handbook.
 

Elections and Celebrations


Conference Secretary Donn Ann Weber

Elections: Conference Secretary, Conference Statistician, Chancellor 
Members of the Annual Conference elected as Conference Secretary Max Vincent, Conference Statistician Charles Broome, and Conference Chancellor Jim Thornton. The Annual Conference paused to celebrate and give thanks for the servant leadership of Rev. Donn Ann Weber who served with excellence as Conference Secretary for the North Georgia Annual Conference for 26 years . 

Passing the Mantle   
WATCH THE PASSING OF THE MANTLE
A beloved and meaningful tradition, retiring clergy pass the mantle to incoming clergy. This liturgy was recorded at Glisson Camp and Retreat Center.
 
Fixing of the Appointments   
We closed today's session with the Fixing of the Appointments of the clergy of the North Georgia Annual Conference. Find the appointment list at www.ngumc.org/files/fileslibrary/ministerialservices/2021-22+ngumc+appt+list.pdf

Celebrating 2020 and 2021 Retirees
WATCH RETIREE RECOGNITION
The North Georgia Conference heard from representatives of the 2020 and 2021 classes of retirees throughout the session, offering reflections and recommendations to the members of the Conference. “Truly, they have transformed the world,” said Bishop Sue. “Well done and thank you!”
 
2021 Retirees
Jody Alderman
Teresa Angle-Young
Darris Baker
Mary Emma Burth
James C Cantrell
Michael Cash
Dwain R. Cassady
Frank A Dean Jr
Lisa K Dempsey
Philip John Dorris
Steven Fazenbaker
Luther Felder
Elizabeth Ann Fleming
William “Bill” Lloyd
Charlene Fuino
Danny Andre Horne
Anika Jones
Edwin Jones
Keith Lawder
Dee Dee Lawson
Dae Soo Lee
Deborah Linnell
Maria Lopez Wells
Deborah Maddox-Turman
Sheryl Marshall
Charlie Marus
M Brett Mathews
Mark McLendon
Sandra Pasley Miller
Allen Leroy Mitchell
Efrain Morales
T Mickey Moss
Diego Orsini
Mark Outlaw
Billy Pittman
Tanya Pittman
Ellen Shepard
Thomas Shores
William F. Thomas II
Lonnie Thornton
Don Thrasher
Robert Tobias
Dane Wagner
James Benny Waldrop
Susan M Warren
Sharon Silver Watkins
Michael Williams
 
2020 Retirees
Danny Kerry Alexander  
Linda Grimes Birchall     
Ronald William Brannen               
Parris Franklin Brock      
Jane Newman Brooks
Daniel Thayer Brown     
Anna Elaine Crawford    
Joseph L. Crawford, Sr.  
Joel Wesley Embry          
Carl Von Epps
Joe P. Geter       
William Calvin Haney, Jr.             
Young Joe Harrington III
Gregory Kent Hatfield    
Warren Watson Huddleston
Rose Hannah Garrett Johnson    
Walter Ross Jones           
Kris Lynn Key     
Richard Charles Long     
Gary Edsel McWhorter
Theodore William Miller              
Richard Howard Moeller              
Thomas Michael Moss   
Janice Faith Oglesbee    
Winfred Eugene Pitts
Richard Allen Pletsch     
James Francis Reilly        
Joseph Russell Repetske
Mack Watson Riley         
Karen Denise Scheib
Gale Landress Seibert    
Yong Chul Shin  
James Edward Smith      
Edward Alvin Swehla      
Allan F. Tarr
Ricci Eugene Turpin        
Columbus Goodman Walton, III
George Earl Wilson         
Richard Don Winn, Sr.   

Communications Award
Conference Communicator Sybil Davidson was presented the Epikoninea Award from United Methodist Communications. The award highlights excellence in Christian communication. 

Farewells
In addition to bidding farewell and thank you to Conference Secretary Donn Ann Weber, the Conference thanked and recognized outgoing leaders. With gratitude, we thanked Conference Lay Leader of five years Bill Martin, Board of Trustees chair John Simmons, Chair of the Equitable Compensation Committee Kathy Lamon, Chair of the Board of Pension and Health Benefits Charles Darden, and Administrative Assistant to the Bishop Judy Bush who will retire in December, along with the many leaders who roll off of positions on Conference boards and committees this year. 

Commissioned Deaconesses
WATCH COMMISSIONING
Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson commissioned five Deaconesses for ministry in the North Georgia Conference at a special service on June 3. Deaconesses and Home Missioners are laywomen and laymen who are called by God to be in a lifetime relationship in The United Methodist Church for engagement with a full-time vocation in ministries of love, justice, and service. Newly commissioned Deaconesses are:
Debora Constable
L. Susan Stroup
Susan Zimmerman
Lauren Breck
Gloria Parker

Commissioning of Missionary 
In May, Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson commissioned Global Ministries missionary Tricia Manns along with representatives of Global Ministries. ​She will serve as a Mission Advocate for Global Ministries in Atlanta. That service was shared as part of our Pre-Annual Conference Briefing. 

"Tricia is commissioned to a lifetime of Christ-like service under the authority of the church," said Bishop Sue. "Thanks be to God!"

Find videos, photos, and information about the 2021 North Georgia Annual Conference at www.ngumc.org/AC2021.


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